These blue cranes are some of the birds that can be found at the International Crane Foundation nature preserve in Baraboo, Wisc.Courtesy Michael Schwartz

A small group of local people visited the International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisc. last week. If you are at all fascinated by the glory of cranes, you would probably be thrilled with a visit to this conservation area.

In 1973 two young graduate students from Cornell University had a dream of saving the world’s crane population. The young men, Ron Stauey and George Archibald, acquired an old horse farm near Baraboo, contacted zoos from all over the world asking to borrow cranes and crane eggs. The eggs came from Japan, Europe, the former USSR and North America. More arrived from India, North and South Korea and China. Unfriendly countries came together to save the cranes. Hooded and Siberian cranes produced young in captivity for the first time, and the foundation was the first to hatch an endangered species from an egg fertilized by cryogenically preserved semen! The whooping crane population is now up to about 600 individuals. Just a few years ago they were on the brink of extinction at about 80 cranes. This reporter got a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see two of them. The pair of whooping cranes even put on a little show for us, sending out their loud song. Cranes go back to prehistoric times. The Siberian Crane flies over Mount Everest. Cranes are featured prominently in many cultures, especially Asian cultures where they are found embroidered on kimonos, wall hangings, painting, and sculptures in bronze, jade, gold, and of course origami. Dancers imitate their elaborate displays and are symbols of monogamy, long life and good luck.

Meanwhile back home in Forest Park, Bambi Alexander and her associates with the Forest Park Community Garden hosted their first progressive dinner last Saturday. Twenty one guests began at Amelia’s then walked to three other gardener’s homes Brown Cow furnished the ice cream parlor ice cream cake and Purple Leaf Farms supplied flowers. The Happy Farmers were Jessica Rinks, Vildona Rrhamani, Michelle Fitzhenry, Kimberly Abami Hasegawa, Naoto Hasegawa, Laura Angelus, Deb Crose and Stuart and Nick Crose. Congratulations, gardeners for all your hard work.

Speedy get well wishes from everyone in town to Bobby Marino. Your friends are devastated and are thinking of you at all times. Forest Park loves you!

Birthday greetings this week go to Brea McDonald, Sharon Good, Rick Hemstreet, Stephane Mondragon, Kevin Thompson, Eleanor Konkowski, Julian Apilado, Cathy Collins, Caudia Mandile, Mike Espinosa, Kathy Huebner, Eric Neubeiser, Joan Bigos, Lauri Falbo, Brett McNeil, Troy Molnar, Hope Simon, Brent Marler, Debbie Wall, Heather Byrnes, Jim Payette, Cecilia Rossi, Dan Venske, Lina Giuliani, Karen Stuart, Kelly Rice Molnar, Kelly Crawford, Ethel Draper and Ed Martinski.

Keep cool.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life's other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side...