The September morning lies fat and cozy in the soft sun as it tries to break through scattered clouds, the last remnants of last night’s rains. The rustle of the large leaves of the Tulip Poplar at the back porch by the faintest of a breeze, the random and subdued murmurs of the sparrows, cardinals, Carolina wrens and many more song birds, and the overwhelming greenness of the sundrenched woods surrounding the house makes this a moment of solitude, appreciation and closeness with nature. But the long beautiful “silence” of nature was abruptly broken by the honking of a gaggle of Canadian geese.
“Time to go! Lunch time!” I am sure one of the geese must have proclaimed, (Mother Superior maybe?) while noisily rounding up the other 20 or so feathery Northerners.
While the noise level steadily increases, the honking geese wind themselves up like battery-operated toys and slowly the wiggling, kicking, paddling and screaming mass of meat and white, brown and black feathers rises majestically from the large pond and take to the sky. Funny thing about geese; they keep up their chatter in flight, always honking, directing the way ahead.
Trumpet vines with the geese's pond in the background.
The mobile blob of sound is all-consuming, deafening and drowns out any other sound and activity as they clear the cedars, honeysuckles, trumpet vines, roses and wild grapes that line both sides of the fence, cross the stand of Prairie Switchgrass, pass the small patch of woods on the easternside of the house, and head north, across the farm toward Danville. Probably to the lake in Millennium Park where kids and adults alike feed then stale bread, peanuts, chips and other unsavory crumbs bad for their health. But these beggars aren’t choosers. Lunch is lunch.
The screaming of the geese, sounding like a bunch of wailing English foxhounds let loose at the start of a hunt, all excited with anticipation, slowly drifts beyond the horizon and the sudden silence is deafening. I’m waiting…waiting for the songbirds to restart their chatter and twitter, but nothing happens; no sounds emerge from the woods and the trees. The woods are speechless.
For a brief moment in time, on this soft and awaking September morn the geese controlled the attention of all the animals in the woods and surround, including myself. But the flock broke that long beautiful moment of being thoroughly emerged and mentally in step with nature and the woods. Suddenly the sun was brighter, harsher, and hotter; the humidity was rising, mental reminders of things to be done floods my mind’s eye, time to get going and, eventually, when a lonesome Blue Jay jeered, it ends the perfect moment of peacefulness.
The tulip poplar has already lost a third of its leaves. Always first to do so and maybe a good thing because its big brown leaves that quickly rots to black are the least of autumn’s leave-display that resembles anything close to beauty. Some of the White Ash trees are showing the same intentions. Autumn is coming, but we’re not there yet. The hot and dry summer will probably hasten the process of autumn this year, although last weekend’s rain from Hurricane Isaac and the subsequent squalls of rainy days have returned a lime-greenish tint to the shrubs, lawn and trees. Maybe the rain will delay autumn’s brownness and the subsequent whiteness of winter.
In the meantime I will agree with Rachel Carson, the famed American conservationist and pioneer in the environmental movement when she said: “There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature.”