There has always been something very mysterious about the geese flying high in the sky in their precision formations. I don’t know where they are coming from or where they are going but they seem to have a strong sense of purpose. Whenever I hear them honking, I always look up and scan the sky to see them. I learned later in life that some of those geese are actually herons and cranes and if you listen carefully you will hear a kronk instead of a honk. I recently saw a flock of eight or ten great blue herons fly over my house at tree top level with their legs extended behind them like big tuning forks. Herons generally fly with a characteristic ease but in formation they appeared to be almost frantic and they were very vocal. It is of interest that these big birds all migrate at about the same time.
I feel some sort of longing when I see them fly over. It is a little bit like the feeling that I have when youngsters go off to college or away to boot camp. Perhaps this was a signal to our ancestors to migrate to avoid the hazards of winter before we built warm houses and stocked our shelves with cans of food. If this is the case, old traditions may be rekindled because now we see convoys of RV’s headed South following the birds to enjoy an endless summer.
I however, am not among them. I enjoy Autumn with its cool crisp nights and warm days. I like to see the ground fog hovering over the fields along the streams. It is the time of year when it is nice to snuggle in my bed for just a little longer and to take long walks in the woods. I enjoy the rustling swoosh, swoosh sound as I shuffle through the leaves and if I stop and listen very carefully I can hear the tic, tic, tic of the leaves falling as they collide with the branches and tree trunks.
There is something reassuring about the leaves changing color. When the weather turns colder, the leaves no longer produce chlorophyll and when the green disappears we can see the underlying colors. The cycle completes itself and it resolves itself into stillness and rest. The plants that have bloomed and fruited become tattered and worn and the golden colors of autumn is their last hurrah before they make way for the new. There is a fierce kindness to nature but it allows us to rest after the frenzy of summer. Meanwhile, an old man shuffles through the leaves as he follows the trail into the woods.