Monday, September 1, 2008
Honk on Approach
We're fortunate enough to have a storm pond behind our house that is home to a multitude of wildlife: foxes, deer, herons, ducks, and geese. At this time of year, nature seems to be winding down, though she is still flush with greenery, gnats, swarms of termites, and warm weather. We're enjoying every moment possible out on our deck, which overlooks the pond. The dogs join us and take turns either barking at neighbors (who are ensconced in their own homes) or biting at the tree limbs that reach up to the deck and above.
Tonight we saw a formation of geese coming in from the north, approaching high in the darkening sky. They looked too high, in fact, to be interested in our pond at first. But they made a lazy circle around the area, flying directly over us, with one goose -- out front -- honking back directions. Those in formation would answer, "Aye, aye, sir!"
Arcing to the north again, the formation was silent except for the leader. He threw down his landing gear and the formation followed. Honking rhythmically, he led the formation into a precipitous and rapid drop to the pond below, arising a slight roar of the water as their feet taxi'd them to a short stop. They sat in a group for a few minutes, talking in low honks to each other, and then turned and paddled toward the geese and ducks waiting on the shore.
"I guess the leader is the air traffic controller," I said to hubby, who is a pilot.
"Yeah, I guess so."
"I wonder how they decide who gets the job?"
"You know all those fights out here?" We nodded in unison. Naturally there was a pecking order.
"We seem to think we've cornered the market on technological advancements, and we're just doing what nature's done for centuries and beyond."
"They do maneuvers just like we do in airplanes. That was a short field landing they just did," he said. "And when the wind is blowing, they turn and head into it, just like you do with a plane."
We enjoyed the dying evening with the dogs and the geese for a while longer. As we sat there, a blue heron flew in and landed in the uppermost branches of a willow. Hubby could see the heron turning his head to and fro, though I couldn't quite make him out in the dim light. Tomorrow I'll see him out there fishing, taking giant, slow steps through the marshes as he seeks his prey.
It's an amazing world.
Peace - D