There is nothing quite so emotionally moving and spectacular than seeing the return of geese in their annual migration. It marks the return of spring, the onset of longer days and the promise of summertime. Just recently, I was lucky enough to witness this brief spectacle and was halted in my tracks by the silent majesty of it all. I was compelled to stand and watch for many minutes as flock after flock moved slowly from one side of the sky to the other until they filled the entire panorama.
What struck me the most was the feeling that these birds carried with them some deep compulsion and purpose; to not only leave when they did but also to return when they were mature enough to desire offspring of their own. The mighty effort involved in flying such huge distances was inspiring and in the quiet of the moment I imagined how they had spent the winter dreaming of the land of their childhood and secretly passed down stories to their grown children of the place of their birth.
I wanted to write a very purple piece of prose which conveyed some of these ‘flighty’ ideas and sketched out some notes. The following is a draft of that idea and I know that it needs much more crafting to be of the architecture it deserves. I may or may not get around to this in future blogs. My reason for attempting such a task is to reinstate the daily task of writing and to get the mechanisms of ‘thoughts-to-words’ back into gear after a period of weeks where I had put it aside.
Against a sanguine and Constable sky; that chief organ of sentiment rippled with blues, gold and white, a stirring advances. The trees, with their blackened fingers gently waving in the twilight breeze, timidly display the faintest suggestion of green. The joyful soliloquy of Blackbirds, calling their news of cats and worms to the world from highest, falls into a hush of expectation as nature itself prepares for arrival. Long has been the season of darkness with its biting frosts and slippery floor. The entombed fish beneath opaque rivers have dreamt of release for long enough but now a seachange is about to occur and they leap, knowing what is about to unfold.
First, an arrow; like an archer’s shot, cuts silently through the expanse above. Gracefully ebbing ever forward; the pointing leads the others on. Then, from beyond the rooftops; another then another until a squadron, a thousand strong fills the air. The magnificence of their triumphant formation brings a calmness and in that moment all is breathless with anticipation. These Canada Geese are returning from warmer isles to their childhood; that holy ground they know of as home.
A place imagined while strutting the sun baked terraces of foreign lands as World Service voices crackle from a distant transistor speaker. Amongst trees strange and wonderful, perhaps, they dreamt of the green and pleasant valleys of their youth. Or maybe they were in the ancestral lakes of the new found lands preparing to brace their feathers against Icelandic wind like ancient mariners as the thrill of epic adventure pulled them back to the striped lawns and pleasure boat bobbing lakes of the promised land.
Since late autumn, when they fled the mist and advancing cold, each heart has held desert island memories both distant and grand. For nearly half a year they have been away in places known only to them and the news of their exodus grew with each measured advance. Each beating wing now brings thoughts of country lawns and rivers broad, by flowered dale and cricket pitch. A land where bread falls from the sky and the grass is lush with morning dew.
This place where they will choose a mate and rear their young who will grow in two seasons to depart once again when the sun retires to that ‘other place’. Some will return and some will never but therein lies the circle; the turning carousel of life which depicts the passing of time. Their arrival proclaims the start of a new page. It is the dawn of our springtime when all is fresh once more and the year lays out before us like an unpainted canvas, waiting for the wings of fate and destiny to paint the tableaux as they will.