Signs of Autumn

Oct 13, 2008

All of us have heard, at some time in our lives, the distinctive honking of a flight of Canadian Geese passing overhead.  Far above us, in strict formation, they are headed North in the spring for breeding and nesting, and South in the fall to escape the harsh winters in the northern United States and Canada.

A few days ago, I had just left my house and headed up the street for a morning walk.  It was a beautiful, clear, cool day.  After walking about 100 yards, I heard the honking of geese.  Since it was the first time this year I had heard them, I stopped and turned toward the sound, hoping to catch a glimpse of the flights.  Listening closely, I could hear the honking, but still couldn’t see the geese; the sound seemed to fade in and out causing me to think they were much farther away than I thought.

Resuming my walk, I had not gone but a few steps when I heard them much louder.  Turning again, I saw the familiar V-shape over the tops of some trees.  The geese were at a lower altitude than normal and “honking” frequently.  Their formation was almost militarily-strict in their line with wing-beats closely synchronized.  The sound of their calls was joyous in nature.  I could almost hear them urging each other; “hurry, the weather is warmer ahead; there is plenty of food; we don’t want to be the last ones there; come on, come on, don’t waste time.”

Mesmerized, I stood in awe of this wonderful event of nature.  How many years have geese been flying the same pathway, calling in the same manner and rushing toward what they instinctively knew was “the good life?”  Their unmusical honking is their way of maintaining contact with each member of their individual flight as well as staying in communication with hundreds of other flights of geese, all going in the same direction.

As I continued to stand and watch, I noticed bright flashes of light surrounding each bird in the flight passing overhead.  At first it was difficult to pin down what I was seeing, but then I realized the flashes of light came from the reflection of the Sun’s rays off the surface of the bird’s hard, shiny flight feathers at the ends of their wings.  Each bird seemed to sparkle like a jewel in the early morning golden- yellow sunshine.  It was a beautiful sight and an extra dimension of enjoyment as watched the birds’ arrow swiftly on their way, their honking cries slowly fading into the distance.

Starting my walk again, I was reminded of how much we are connected to nature.  We are all nature’s children and  part of a much larger plan than just going to work each day and taking care of children.  We need to recognize that fact and act on it and exercise responsible stewardship in order to take care of natural resources and preserve them for our future generations.  I hope that long after I am gone, my descendants will be able to experience the feeling of wonder upon hearing the honking of geese and seeing their incredible flights overhead as they have done for thousands of years.