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The Geese are Going South

I guess everything likes to take a vacation and geese are no exception.

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Unsplash/Egor Kunovsky

In the fall, folks who lived in Countryville love to catch sight of the wing-flapping geese as they made their annual caravan through their neck of the woods. We knew that those high-flying birds came from somewhere up North, heading to their winter destination, somewhere down South. We just didn’t know where up North nor where down South, but we guessed that they might vacation in Florida, South America, or some warmer point beyond. Long after they were out of sight, I was still wondering where those geese were going, but since they couldn’t tell me, all I could do was scratch my head in dismay.

Between September and November, when Canada geese migrate, it is fairly warm in our parts, and because we kids were outdoor creatures, too, we stayed on the lookout for those friendly wings high, high, high up in the sky to come flapping our way.

Taking In the Spectacle of Migrating Geese

Perhaps you’re thinking, “What in the world is so fascinating about gazing at a flock of geese flying over your head a hundred miles up in the wild blue yonder?” It may not be a big deal to you, but here’s what you have to understand: It’s the 1950s. Many rural families don’t have a television to occupy their spare time. Every seemingly insignificant thing that happened in nature was exciting to us, even the wind blowing up dust, leaves swirling through the autumn air, or storm clouds gathering on the horizon.

Anything beyond their ordinary day-to-day activities was a big deal for simple, country folks. And believe me, we wide-eyed spectators took it all in, which was especially true of our desire to catch those “747s” flying beneath the pale blue, autumn skies.

Here’s how the “geese” thing goes: First of all, we have to be at home in order to see ’em. Okay, I’m not naïve enough to think that geese only fly over our house, but the only place that we see them is when they fly over our coop. While it appears that divine providence charted their route just slightly east of our house, I also have enough sense to know that our house just happened to be along their flight route, even as mysterious as it may seem.

Geese-Spotting Required Vigilance

Unfortunately, some years, we were away from home and missed the migrators going and coming. When that happened, it was just too bad, and we were out of luck for that year’s acrobatics show in the sky. That’s because, unlike the neighborhood birds, geese are not native to our parts. They don’t lounge around in the grass or sit and prance on spindly tree branches or wire fences. They don’t get tired enough to take a rest stop. They don’t swing down to say “hello.” They don’t go for a splash in our pond, and they don’t stop to get a drink of water, either. And because they never land for an emergency, they don’t hang around at all. They just onk, onk, onk their horns and keep right on trucking.

If we are in the house and sorta quiet, we might hear their “horns” shortly before they come into view. But, just in case we don’t hear them, whoever is in the yard and hears the first honk hollers, “Hey ‘yall, the geese are coming,” like scalded cats, we bolt outside and fix our eyes toward the Eastern skies. As the flight crew and his passengers come into view, we wave animatedly at ’em and yell, “hellooooooo.” Just sure they hear us loudly and clearly. Then, we just stand there flailing our warms until every last one of the flight crew is long out of sight, then feel somewhat foolish for waving at a flock of geese a mile-high up in the sky.

Simple Pleasures in the Country

What I really wanted those “Canadian feathers” to do was drop in and say “hi,” but since I couldn’t get their attention with my fake geese-calls or a decoy, they had no idea what I wanted, so they sailed right on by without even glancing in my direction.

Think that’s strange, huh? Perhaps, but know this: People who live in the country and who enjoy nature take everything in. Even a flock of out-of-town birds sailing by in a perfect V-formation is a big deal for them.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen geese flying anywhere, but each year around the time that the Goosemobile should be heading South, I turn on the camera in my mind, click “play,” and there we are. I’m a skinny, country girl again, standing expectantly out in our front yard, watching the geese as they honk and honk, and I wave and wave as they flap their wings and flap right on out of sight.

Arkansas Girl grew up in a family of 11 children, proudly continuing a long line of country people. In addition to Arkansas and California, she has lived in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Arkansas Girl’s hobbies are reading, writing, quilting, and mosaics. Read all of her GRIT posts here.

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Published on Sep 21, 2015
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