Singing like a caged bird

Thursday, October 23, 2003


As the autumn leaves are turning and some have begun dropping, my eyes keep looking for that next sign of the season changes. And my ears keep listening for that far away faint sound that turns my eyes upward and northward...the unmistakable honk of the migrating geese. For years I have witnessed the change of season with the V's of geese winging their way to the sun drenched tropics. The Hudson river must be a major landmark in their genetic code as it is a major flyway. Multitudes of geese pass over and many stop at the harvested corn fields and marsh lands that are so abundant in this area. The corn fields are like the truck stops on the Interstates, where the drivers refuel for the next part of the journey, and the honking geese resemble the drivers exchanging news of the road, porn mags and bad jokes and whatever other gossip they have gleaned from their CB's.

It was in a clear, October sky two fall seasons ago that I witnessed what I think may be a once in a life time event. The cool, crisp morning had just begun, and the early morning fog had burned off when I heard the faint honks above the car noise. So I pulled off on a back road near the crest of a hill with an extensive view of the Hudson River valley. And when I first could focus my eyes on the source of the distinctive sound , there was something different about these geese. They were far higher up in the air. These surely were on an express route, not going to stop for any food. And they were white. And there were many of them. I gazed at them as they flew over, probably 10 V's in a line across the sky. They looked like a string of pearls strung across the deepest blue sky. But wait, there is another string coming behind them, and another and another. They just kept coming. Interspersed were a few other geese who were dark, almost like specks of onyx spaced at odd intervals within the strings of pearls. What I would learn later that this was the mass migration of the "Snow" geese. And also, that within the flocks of the Snow geese mass events, a few "Blue" geese have chosen to live in a diversified, integrated neighborhood. But my eyes were seeing things that I could hardly believe...more and more strings appeared in the sky. As I tracked the first geese I had seen reaching the southern horizon, they were followed by legions of their fellow travelers. So many that the entire sky from the northern to southern horizons was filled with strings of geese. Quickly I did the math calculations, 10 geese to a V, 10 V's to a string....I stopped counting when I reached 100 strings...that's 10,000 of these beauties. I continued to watch slack jawed, checked my watch and started to estimate the time it took for the entire flock to fly must have been 20 mins. I have never witnessed such a flight before or since. It was an awesome sight, that will forever be etched into my memory.

Since then I have learned that they gather in groups of 20,000 to 30,000 or more and can fly non-stop for 1500 miles. But also that they are over abundant in the Arctic now. And the fragile Attic environment is being damaged by their eating habits. But they sure were a wonder of nature that fine October morning. At this time of the year, I always listen for the faint honks of the high flying snow geese and search the clear blue sky for "the string of pearls".


I have been known to get on a rant about how the current administration is taking us down a road or perhaps a slippery slope to a government and economy that may be harmful to the average persons' well being. The following is not to diminish fears that we are on that well traveled path, but rather to contemplate how far this road to ruin goes. Destination: Ukraine. And there are more horror stories out there about the states of the former Soviet Union. It is a long way to Kiev, but I certainly hope the future generations of Americans do not get anywhere near there.


Recently saw and heard a native american story teller at the Adirondack Park Interpretive Center. He is fantastic. Particularly I loved his stories of "How Bird Got His Song" and "How Chipmunk Got His Stripes". Recently Dervala told us of the gaelic equivalent called a SeanchaĆ­ . Do other cultures have such "occupations" and what are they called?


Post a Comment

<< Home