I wake in the morning, about the same time as always, and notice that outside is darker longer than it was only a few short months ago. I get to make a similar observation in the evening as darkness blankets my home like a youngster pulling a wool blanket over his head to keep the monsters at bay.
Most every evening, between 6 and 6:30, I hear the approaching honking of Canada geese coming from, roughly, north. Last night nearly 100 birds appeared over the trees then made a 45-degree turn to the left, the entire chevron bending itself around an invisible post in my neighbor’s yard, until the entire formation was pointed toward the Chesapeake Bay, or maybe Florida.
Through the trees a couple of honks announced a gaggle of Canada geese approaching from the north. In less than a minute, maybe 20 individuals in a signature V floated just over the stand of oak trees, wings beating in almost perfect unison. They likely would land in a field of corn stubble, at least near a stream, if not in the pond across from the Mount St. Mary’s University campus a few miles down the road.
For the past few days, Blue Jays here been gathering, like caravaners of old, preparing to head south, rather than west, for the winter. Apparently, though, the new caravaners are mostly young birds. Older couples – blue jays, by the way, are monogamous – tend to stay around here for the winter. That’s OK. The jays love the peanuts we toss out to the squirrels, and we love watching as they drop down to the back deck, grab a nut, and make off to feast in peace.
Mornings are foggy, though not so much near the ground. In airplane parlance, the “ceiling” is a couple hundred feet above the surface, visibility likely measured in miles, were not the line of site interrupted by hills and curves. I’ll take the hills and curves over straight line of sight, though, any day.
Seen from inside the house, signs of incipient winter decorate the landscape. Rust colored leaves torn from the oak in front of our home, sometimes flutter like a fishing lure tossed into a still water pool, sometimes flow horizontally like an invisibly crystaline river carrying its flotsam to the ocean.