My longtime Nebraska Press Women friend Mary Pat Finn-Hoag and I were exchanging emails recently that mostly were our very long lists of work to do at our daily newspapers, plus some additional concerns for family and friends who are having difficulties right now.

One of the reasons we’ve been friends so long, besides our many years as Nebraska and National Federation of Press Women members, is that we do similar things professionally.

We both are staff writers on daily newspapers in Nebraska cities that are regional hubs for shopping, manufacturing, medical services and education. We both are farm girls who stayed near home for college and most of our work years, Mary Pat in Norfolk in the northeast and me in south-central Nebraska’s Kearney.

So, we know the ups and downs of being overwhelmed with regular tasks on our beats, plus special section assignments, plus special events and conferences to cover, plus anything unexpected that comes with working at a newspaper.

The very cold weather for the first half of January also made doing even routine things outside very difficult.

So, as we were sharing issues and supporting each other with “I understand” comments, I wrote to Mary Pat that maybe we should just get “overwhelmed” tattooed on our foreheads.

NO, we would never do that. A tattoo is permanent, you know.

Plus, I realized later, that overwhelmed can have several meanings, depending on the circumstances.

While we were mostly overwhelmed with the burden of too much work and not enough hours in the day to do it as well as we would like, there have been times when we’ve been overwhelmed with positive feelings of joy, excitement, pride or anticipation … such as counting the days until a vacation or traveling to an NFPW conference.

Any kind of change has the potential to create overwhelming feelings of dread or uncertainty because of all the unknown factors.

I thought about that Saturday afternoon at the Crane Trust headquarters property along the Platte River about 35 miles southeast of Kearney. The main mission of this non-profit is to preserve habitat in the river and adjacent areas used by endangered whooping cranes that migrate through central Nebraska.

You are much more likely to see hundreds of thousands of sandhill cranes in the region from mid-February to early April during their rest and feeding stop midway through their spring migration. They are studied by the Crane Trust scientists because sandhill cranes’ preferred habitats are the same as for whooping cranes.

The next step in preserving and perhaps enhancing those habitats, particular the trust’s native prairie along the Platte River started Saturday at dusk when trucks carrying 40 genetically pure bison from a northern Nebraska Panhandle ranch arrived at the trust. The bison exited the livestock trailers into a specially built corral.

These rare bison are part of just 1 percent to 2 percent of Plains bison with no crossbreeding with cattle in their family trees. Their ancestors were protected, pure bison from the Yellowstone National Park herd.

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After the two mature bulls in the herd arrive this week and the entire group settles in, they will be released into 1,000 acres of fenced prairie along the river. For the first time in probably 150 years, bison and sandhill cranes will be in the same place at the same time in the Central Platte Valley.

As the trucks arrived Saturday afternoon, I was amazed at how quickly the scared – overwhelmed – expressions on the bison’s faces faded. They quickly started grazing prairie hay spread in the corral and got drinks at the water tank. One baby started nursing its mother.

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Maybe they know better than we do not to get all emotional and make what could be an overwhelming situation worse. Maybe you just take that step out of trailer and see what comes next.

My stories and photos about the bison project will run in the Weekend Kearney Hub this coming Saturday. I’ve already told the trust staff that I want to come back this summer for more photos when the prairies are green and blooming with wildflowers, and the bison have settled into their new home.

Actually, it would be fun to be there in a couple of weeks when the holding pen gate is opened and they first get to experience the prairie. I’m sure they will be overwhelmed … in a good way.

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