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Geese Call Autumn in Formation

Published on: Oct. 22, 2007

Yesterday I sat outside enjoying what may be the last most blissful day of warm weather. Then I heard an odd muffled sound. In a few seconds, a great long V-shaped flock of giant canada geese passed overhead. So many things mark the passing of seasons, but those honking distant birds mark the sound of autumn for me.

Oddly, that wasn’t imprinted on my memory from some early hunting or even just seeing them fly over as child. It was from some 1950s or 1960s phone movie about settlers, farmers—some family on the land. And the flights of geese marked the rhythm of their lives, the passage of time. We talk a lot today about children disconnected from nature. But if it’s done well—whether in a movie, a book or whatever—a story can actually create a link that might not come to life until later. Authentic, firsthand experience may be most satisfying, but a taste of wildness indirectly still seems better than none. At least it stayed with me until I could hear the real thing.

My mother-in-law sat with me yesterday looking up at the birds. “Why do you suppose they’re so evenly spaced?” she asked. And that actually was why I was going to write this blog. You might think the answer isn’t rocket science. But an aerospace website actually held the most interesting ideas on the subject of V-flights in birds.

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