When I lived out in the country in Arkansas, each year, we tried to "catch" the honking geese as they made their annual caravan, winging their way from somewhere up North to their winter vacation destination, somewhere down South. I always wondered where they were going, but since they never told me, to this day, all I can do is simply wonder. I figured they were headed to Florida or South America, or some points beyond.
Between September and November (when Canada geese migrate), it is still fairly warm in our parts. Since we children were outdoor creatures too, we stayed on our guard for those friendly wings to come flapping our way.
We didn't have a television, so every little thing that happened in nature was exciting to us. It took the place of things that would have otherwise occupied our time: a humped-back caterpillar crawling slowly on a thin, fragile leaf; a string of ants hauling their winter food into their cellar in the ground; hungry bees sucking on honeysuckle blossoms; the wind blowing up dust and leaves swirling through the air; storm clouds gathering on the horizon; or any other occurrences in nature that caught our eye. Anything that happened outside our ordinary day-to-day activities was a big deal for us country young'uns.
This was true of our desire to catch the geese as they made their annual pilgrimage through our neck of the woods. And it seemed as though divine providence charted their route just slightly to the east of our house. If we missed the migrators on their way down and didn't catch them on their way back, then, we were out of luck for that year's acrobatics show in the sky.
Now, here's the way the "geese" thing actually goes. First of all, we had to be at our house. That was the flight path for the geese as they made their v-shaped flight formation through the pale, blue late summer or early autumn skies. If we happened not to be home, it was too bad, because unlike the neighborhood birds, the geese are not native to our parts. They never stop to lounge around in the grass. They don't stop for rest. They don't swing down to say "hello." They don't stop to get a drink of water. They don't stop to splash around in the pond, and since they don't land for an emergency, they don't hang around at all. They just honk their horns and keep right on trucking.
If we were inside the house, we'd hear their "horns" honking a little while before they flew overhead. If someone was outside in the yard and heard the first honk, they'd holler, "Hey 'yall, the geese are coming." With that announcement, anyone inside bolted out of the house and fixed their eyes toward the eastern skies. And as though we just knew the flight crew heard us, we'd yell "hellooooooo" and wave animatedly at the geese. We would stand there flailing our arms until the winged planes were long out of sight. Then we felt a little foolish for having waved at a flock of geese a mile up in the sky.
Strange, huh? Perhaps so, but you have to remember that people who live in the country and who enjoy nature take everything in, including a flock of Canada geese going South.
It's been a long time since I've seen geese flying overhead, but each year around this time, my memory camera replays the scene. The geese fly through my mind on their way to a warmer climate somewhere way down beyond our cold, cold Southern region.