I used to envy them, somehow. They go down there to the warm coastal areas where the jacks swim and the nights are chilly but livable this time of year. If they’re especially sensitive geese, they’ll keep going until there are mangos and palm trees and the language of the people is Spanish.
But they cross over here in their long, languorous V’s, and all we can do is look up and wonder what our lives would be like if we could go along. To fly over the farms and valleys, to coast along on the rising thermals, to sail down the long way to warmth and sand and comfort, how nice it might be.
But if we did that, we’d miss the snow, and the fire in the fireplace when the work was done in the evening. We’d miss how the snowy world looks just at dusk when the snow is an alpen-glow orange and tells us secrets it has saved for us all these years. If we went to the winter-feeding grounds, we wouldn’t be able to appreciate how splendid the spring will be with the basking rays of sun on our necks and the swelling of the buds in the fruit trees. To truly appreciate warmth, we must first get cold, and that’s evidently a part of our lives that the geese won’t ever get to share.
Of course, they seem quite content to sail on down the southern winds to the warm places, leaving us to wrap ourselves tighter in thicker clothes and dream of sandy beaches and snorkels. Have a good winter, geese. Eat a crab or two for me. You see, I’ll be here for you to honk at when you head north again in the spring. I’ll be right here, living in the same place. Cold or hot, windy or still, my world and my responsibilities are here, and I’ll be right here taking care of them.
It’s my way of doing things, and I’m used to it.
Slim Randles is a regular contributor to the Press website. Slim’s latest book, “Sweetgrass Mornings,” is available at www.unmpress.com.