Friday, March 14, 2008

Last Night the Geese Flew North

Snow geese moved north last night over the cabin--snow geese and tundra swans and ducks, in flocks of hundreds and flocks of 3 to 5 or 10. Some flocks flew over the cabin, tiny V’s high above in the clear night sky. Some flocks I only heard as they flew to the east or west of me, only the sounds of honks and whistles to mark their passing.

The swan and geese, even high, were easy to identify by their calls, amplified as the sound was by their sheer numbers. The small flocks of ducks I could not identify. Sometimes I’d hear the ghost of a sound, too faint or distorted by the distance, a single note—not enough.

Last night was the first clear night that the temperature did not drop below freezing in I don’t know how long. Occasionally, during the winter on a cloudy or stormy night, the temperature has stayed near or slightly above freezing, but the clear nights were always cold—until tonight. And so the geese and swans and ducks moved north towards their breeding grounds. "I’m coming," they call, each in their own language, telling the north to be ready. They are on the way.

I am mesmerized by this journey I am witness to. I stand outside, head craned to the heavens, until I can stand that way no more. And still they fly. I have stood outside the cabin on a starry night for more than hour, and it is past my bedtime. A meteor crosses the sky, bright and orange, a fireball almost, a small fireworks to acknowledge the wondrous migration, this annual pilgrimage.

I wish I could stay outside longer, but I can’t. Inside again, I open my bedroom window, and I fall asleep to the sound of geese and swans and ducks heading north, a gift of enormous worth that humbles me even as it lulls me to sleep.


Cathy said...

I too had flocks of geese flying overhead today. Most were hidden by the trees. Oh course the big question now, are the bears up too.

Also, finally a robin grace my yard. Yes Spring is here and somewhat if I'm getting another inch of snow tomorrow.

Dana Jones said...

Another gorgeous pic! I love your blog!

Chris said...

What a beautiful post! So descriptive, I felt like I was there with you! One time in the middle of the night I woke up to hundreds of geese flying over, I raced to my window and saw them "pepper" the night sky. I remember how wonderful that experience was!

PA-Birder said...

Nice post....migration and magically-wonderful thing!

Carolyn H said...

Cathy: Bears I rarely have down here, but a co-worker saw a mink just a few steps from the cabin last Monday.

Dana: I'm glad you enjoyed it. Do you ever paint hawks on your scarves??

Chris: Thanks! It's not every year that waterfowl migration is as dramatic as it was this week. It's like one of the seven wonders of the world when it happens, though.

Pa-birder: Thanks! To me, migration is the most amazing thing to witness. I look forward to it twice a year!

Carolyn H.