The view of sky sweeping over the hill makes it much easier to see the great flights of geese heading south for the winter. Twice a week in the daytime, and once at night, large flocks have passed over. On each occasion, we can hear them inside the house, then rushed into the yard. The geese seem to be more numerous on cloudy days and clear nights.
One late-afternoon gaggle reached nearly from horizon to horizon, in three long and very noisy V-formations. And always, one bird led each V, with the two sides of the bird ‘lettering’ trailing back quite unevenly–wobbling, flexing, shifting. What free sociable claques, I thought. Amazing, the way their honking carried back to me. I watched the geese fly toward the hills on the far side of the valley; I could still hear them even when they’d become practically invisible.
In its way the nighttime visitation was even more mysterious, for that time I looked up at a starlit but moonless sky that didn’t have a cloud in sight–and heard this multitudinous sound moving across it. The night was chilly. All of the qualities of the birds’ flight were heightened for me by its very invisibility, for while I actually saw no geese at all, that sound was everywhere. And what guided, innate knowledge–or what? And I knew that no objective reasoning processes alone could explain their magnificent flight.
Some how the twice-yearly, north-south migrations of the geese have become symbols for me of the known and unknown qualities of life–sublime and indecipherable at the same time, enduring yet fleeting, and almost outside of the range of human events. For me, those migrations have become portents of the seasons and of the earth itself as it swings around “our” sun in great rhythms. The one consciousness (mine) stands in its body on the ground and looks up at the strange variations of itself represented by the geese. And wonders. In their own ways, do the geese wonder also? What kind of hidden interchange between species take place at such times? If the question could be answered, would all of reality in its unending mystery lie revealed before us?