Conditions weren't much better in Florida Lit, where we joined Jody and Penny at the fishing hole where they encounter the dance of the whooping cranes:
The dancers raised their wings and lifted their feet, first one and then the other. They sank their heads deep in their snowy breasts, lifted them and then sank them again. They moved soundlessly, part awkwardness, part grace. ...The birds were reflected in the clear marsh water. Sixteen white shadows reflected the motions. The evening breeze moved across the saw-grass. It bowed and fluttered. The water rippled. The setting sun lay rosy on the white bodies. Magic birds were dancing in a mystic marsh....I read this passage aloud and then pointed out that it's different from other encounters with wild animals so far in the book. Other animals are predator or prey, portrayed as either a threat to the family's survival or as meat. "So if Jody and Penny are so desperate for food," I asked my class, "Why don't they kill some cranes and take 'em home for supper?"
"Come on, they've just been discussing the law of the jungle, the need to eat or be eaten. Shouldn't they skip the awe-filled observation and bag a bird?"
"And what's with all the 'magic birds' and 'mystic marsh' stuff? What makes these birds so special?"
Finally, a brave student works up the courage to respond: "You're the one who likes birds."
Well alrighty then! We'll assume that Rawlings wrote this passage to appeal to those few peculiar people among us who like birds, and that way everyone else can go back to sleep. I'll just stand up here mouthing meaningless blather about nothing in particular while everyone else succumbs to gentle slumber...until human voices wake us, and we drown.