"Sandhill Crane Legends" was inspired by the following: This is an excerpt from the book The Birds of Heaven: Travels with Cranes by Peter Matthiessen. The immortal cranes call, their cries sound from afar, their thoughts circle upward into distant skies. Below, on the autumn rivers, stands a man, above him the bright moon. The man wanders aimless, trailing after the endless Milky Way. The wind blows past him. I, too, thinks the man, would like to be utterly free. --Jiang Yi Ning Sandhill Cranes fly at such altitudes, they disappear from the sight of earthbound mortals. This may account for their near-sacred place in the earliest legends of the world as messengers and harbingers of highest heaven. In Cree Indian legend, Crane carries Rabbit to the moon. Aesop extols the crane's ability "to rise above the clouds into endless space, and survey the wonders of the heavens, while viewing the earth beneath, with its seas, lakes, and rivers, as far as the eye can reach," and Homer and Aristotle comment on great crane migrations. Every land where they appear has tales and myths about the cranes, which since ancient times have represented longevity and good fortune, harmony and fidelity. In historic paintings, heaven-bound ancients are commonly depicted riding on a crane, or assuming the crane's majestic form for their arrival into the clouds of immortality.