For two, maybe three weeks in these autumn months, they like to settle in for the night somewhere nearby. I’m not sure where, exactly – perhaps in the open grassy field near my running path, perhaps by one of the many ponds in the area – but our neighborhood provides a pleasant resting place for them on their journey south. We hear them each morning and each evening as they wing their way through the fall skies, honking to each other as they go.
Rather, we did hear them, for those two or three weeks, but they’re gone now. Mornings are far from silent around here, what with calls of songbirds and crows, the barking of dogs, the occasional growl of a chainsaw employed by some enterprising neighbor, but the geese have continued south, and I miss them.
To be honest, this may have been the first year I really noticed their presence, noticed their consistent calls, and I cannot claim credit for seeing them myself: Katie brought them to my attention. She loves geese, this girl does, loves anything that inhabits the sky, is fascinated by the paths of hawks, by the murmur of distant airplanes. She will drop whatever she’s doing to stand and point and babble excitedly whenever something with wings passes overhead.
And so, naturally, she noticed the geese before I did, heard their honking cries one morning and scrambled to the window to try to see them. They weren’t visible from our vantage point in the bedroom, just audible, but still she stood there, scanning the sky until their noise receded. The same thing occurred the next morning, and the next, and the next, until one day, wonder of wonders – there they were! – their V forming a perfect intersect course with our window and with one small girl who was thrilled at the sight of them. She kept her eyes on them as they came closer and closer, gesturing and babbling to get our attention, dropping flat on her stomach and craning her head back to watch them until the last possible moment.
We laughed, her dad and I did, at her delight, at her excitement, at the vision of her falling down the better to see, and we’ve shared the story a time or two since then, eliciting smiles from friends and family. The wonder of a child is precious, wonderful, worth sharing. I hope with everything in me that she never loses that sense of awe, that fascination with the world around her.
The geese are gone now. I realized it this morning, that I hadn’t heard them calling for the past two or three days. Their time was fleeting, here in this place. Two weeks, three at the most. I didn’t know how short a time it would be, there in the midst of it, during those mornings of wonder. They are gone and, though they will return again next fall, it will not be the same, for she will not be the same. Another year older, another year more grown up with, perhaps, less interest in such things.
Time is fleeting. I didn’t know how short a time it would be.
I miss the geese.