It is currently Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:37 pm

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: The Wonder of Geese
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:10 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:54 am
Posts: 1117
I heard them coming before I saw them. Insistent, high-pitched calls from far away and far above, and I looked up in anticipation of the sight. The grey, glowering skies of the day before, and the week before that, already seemed as distant as those calls, and I had to shield my eyes from the glare of the sun as I stood there in the disarray of my garden – the first spring weeding after a winter that seemed too long.

For a while, the sound felt like a kind of disembodied lament haunting the high airs, while closer to earth insects hummed, and birds sang, and the drone of a lawnmower complained over the long, wet grass of April. As they grew closer, the calls began to fill the wide spaces around me and above me, until it seemed there were no other earthly sounds. I knew to fix my gaze on the southern sky, and I held my breath, waiting for the moment. Over the tops of the tallest firs and cedars the lines appeared, angled on both sides from a single, dark point moving swiftly northward. Boomerang formations spread across the sky from south to north, like great running rips in pale blue cloth, like jittery lines of ink scratched across wet paper.

There were thousands of them. Geese on their way to the summer breeding grounds of northern Canada and Alaska - lakes and ponds and marshes so remote that few human eyes will see the nests being built and the clutches of eggs ringed with down and the goslings’ first encounter with water. As I stood there and watched, I wondered how many other eyes were turned towards the sight, how many others were witness to this astonishing journey. We live right on this ageless flight path, and I know that twice each year the graceful, undulating lines of travelers pass over, but I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually seen the whole drama play out above me. It felt good to know that the right time and the right place were aligned – it felt like a privilege and an honour.

The formations came in waves, and like the movement of waves, they diminished from a strong and brash onslaught to gentle ripples splashed against the sky. When the first huge surge faded into the north, a second smaller one appeared to take its place, and when that had passed, there was a space in the sky and in time that caused me to drop my gaze back to the disheveled garden that had waited so patiently for its spring makeover. But before I could shake loose the soil dangling from the clump of crabgrass I had just dispatched, the calls began once again – not as numerous and not as loud – but nonetheless proudly heralding the last brave companies winging northward.

Research has revealed all kinds of interesting things about the flight of migrating geese. The familiar “V” formations allow flocks to travel far longer distances than an individual alone, each bird taking advantage of the uplift created by the flapping wings of those ahead. A lead bird will tire more quickly because it doesn’t have this advantage, and so will fall back into the line as another takes its place, causing the formations to weave about like a great cosmic dance across the sky. The calls of the geese are thought to be a kind of “drumbeat” for the leaders to follow, keeping up the pace for the entire flock, and when one of the flock becomes sick or injured and must drop behind, at least two others will stay with it until all hope for its survival is lost.

These thoughts played across my mind as I watched the last small black darts disappearing into the north. The final formations had perhaps five or seven in their number. Not one bird flew alone, and that lifted my heart.

It took a while for the reverie to fade, but in the end I willed my eyes to return to their more immediate surroundings and found, to my surprise, my husband looking back at me from across the small meadow, and there was wonder in his eyes and he smiled. Walking towards me, he asked, “Remember that day when we saw them? We were on Chocolate Island, and we had just pulled the canoe up onto the beach. Remember that?”

Of course I remembered. One of those handful of alignments of right place and right time. Within the hour we had brushed off the overturned canoe and had set it in the water. We paddled out of the little cove and into the harbour, aiming not for the more distant island of our shared memory, but for the tiny islet that has no name that we know of, with the perfect little white shell beach and the ancient gary oaks twisting over the rocks and the grassy bowl of wildflowers that lies hidden at its center. Perched along its edge, we sat and watched the late afternoon sun reflected as bright sparks along the surface of the ocean and we turned our grateful faces towards the comfort of its warmth. The cries of the geese had not been a lament. They had been a joyful song of praise for Spring.

_________________
Image

Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.
Jalal ad-Din Rumi


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:39 pm 
Offline
Feeling grateful
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:41 am
Posts: 33688
Beautiful. :love:

_________________
'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 8:19 pm 
Offline
2018 Fitbit Balrog*
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 4:03 pm
Posts: 11382
:love:

_________________
*title copyright: Teremia

'You just said "your getting shorter": you've obviously been drinking too much ent-draught and not enough Prim's.' - Jude (as Merry)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 9:14 pm 
Offline
Cute, cuddly and dangerous to know
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:52 am
Posts: 6011
Lovely, Ath! :)

How wonderful that you caught the moment this year. :love: :)

_________________
Image Artwork by Breogán - thank you, my friend! :foryou:


Eine Blume der Asche meines Herzens


but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 11:18 pm 
Offline
Elvish Hobbit
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:41 am
Posts: 1157
Location: Texas, USA
Oooh..... :love:

_________________
Texas, Land of the Free, Home of the Tumbleweeds....:tumbleweed:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 12:24 am 
Offline
Living in hope
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:43 am
Posts: 39428
Location: Sailing the luminiferous aether
:love:

I have never seen that. But small flocks commute over our house at sunset every summer night, sometimes flying very low, and I love the sight and sound of them.

_________________
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 12:33 am 
Offline
Elvish Hobbit
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 2:41 am
Posts: 1157
Location: Texas, USA
Every now and again I'll be outside and suddenly I'll hear them. Then I just stand there and stare into the sky trying to see them. It's simply spectacular when there are so many and right above you. A rare sight for me. There was one time when the sky was thickly clouded, and you could hear the geese just above...
:love:

_________________
Texas, Land of the Free, Home of the Tumbleweeds....:tumbleweed:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 4:58 am 
Offline
Best friends forever
User avatar

Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2005 10:33 pm
Posts: 11961
Location: Over there.
How beautiful, Athrabeth!!!

_________________
Dig deeper.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 6:20 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:54 am
Posts: 1117
Thanks, everyone. :)

I'm glad I got that written down. I walked around for days with the sight and sound of those thousands upon thousands of birds winging north resonanting in my thoughts. It is so profoundly moving to feel such an immediate and strong connection to one of the earth's ancient patterns, to feel like part of something so........big.

Strangely, that feeling isn't altogether transferred to the small flock of Canada geese that regularly take up their spring and summer residence in the small estuary where a stream widens out to meet the waters of our little cove. Geese calls may sound magically ethereal when they're a thousand metres in the air, but when they're a hundred metres away, in a natural echo chamber of hills and water, they sound like a herd of angry braying donkeys. That's certainly what they sounded like at five this morning. :help:

I think it must be true that geese have some capacity for long memory. None of that flock has set one webbed foot past the smooth tumbled rocks that mark the shoreline of our property since the day of the Great Potato Cannon Offensive lauched by Mr. Ath and our son a few years back. If anyone has ever experienced walking through a meadow that has become a favourite grazing ground for a flock of geese, they will know the perils of such an endeavour, especially when one's preferred summer footwear is flip-flops. Something had to be done. While not one goose was harmed in the ambush, the deafening sound of potatoes being blasted out of a bazooka made of PVC pipe obviously made quite the impression. The mama and papa geese must make it very clear to their offspring to respect the boundaries of the crazy humans' territory. They continue to mercilessly fertilize our next door neighbour's grassy lawn. He is a gentle soul, quite new to the island, who believes that "shooshing them away" will eventually convince them not to trespass. :rofl:

_________________
Image

Who could be so lucky? Who comes to a lake for water and sees the reflection of moon.
Jalal ad-Din Rumi


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 9 posts ] 

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group