Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Geese, Geese

I just watched the largest V of geese I have ever seen fly overhead. A moment of peace as the skein drifted through the airspace, individuals knitting themselves amongst each other, forward and backward, over and under, left and then right. Such a vast expanse of geese, my everything required me to stop on the sidewalk and look up. Those fleeting moments that make time stand still, remind you to breathe and put everything into perspective.  For a moment I considered counting the geese, but found restraint. This was the kind of occasion that only improves with time as the number of birds gets bigger, bigger and bigger upon looking back.

I was the weirdo paused on the walkway, peering at the sky (mouth closed). There is such a beauty in these flying formations. We recognize them as a V, but truly the shape of the flying gaggle is constantly changing, morphing as front moves to back and so forth. And then there is the sound, the completely recognizable and awkward squawk from overhead. Absolutely in sync with nothing.

Geese take me back to the first autumn I spent in the fields at Sauvie Island Organics in Portland, Oregon. The little island is a goose haven, a food-rich stop on the Pacific Flyway. Not snowy, not frozen, just wet and lush and temperate and an excellent place to visit. Except for the hunters, but that's another story. As the days shortened, the temperature cooled and the rain persisted, the geese began to pass overhead in bigger and bigger, louder and louder Vs, providing a moment to pause and imagine myself on this tiny island dot. Just a pushpin on the map of their migratory journey. I love revisiting that place, where my own internal seasonal clock began to tune with that of the geese, the sunlight, the root crops.

The flying enjoyment passed, their formation fading in the cloud-brushed blue sky. My head still tilted up gazing at the emptiness, I waved them a silent goodbye. Right then, a smaller formation took me by surprise, a handful of geese flapping their way in zigzags to catch up with friends. There is joy, and there is always more joy.

I never saw anything like this, but here's some Sauvie Island goose footage.

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