High overhead, the call to spring was loud and clear. We stopped in place and looked skyward. There they were! The geese were flying in a gigantic V-formation, honking excitedly to each other. Perhaps they were exchanging delighted greetings. Or maybe honking out a summons to the next one to lead the formation, as they shifted leadership regularly so no one goose did all the hard work of breaking through the air as others followed.
I watched closely, trying to pick out pairs. I have always known that geese mate for life, and it makes me worry about them. I don’t want a hunter to kill one goose’s mate and leave him or her alone, mourning the loss of their life partner. When I see a goose flying separately, all alone, I feel its sadness and loneliness as though he/she were a friend. I look to the heavens and say a little prayer for all animals, tame and wild, who are so much at the mercy of us human beings.
The sky directly overhead is one of the primary flyways geese use to come north from their winter respite in southern climes, as well as to fly south again in about six or seven months. We walk daily in this park next to the Missouri River, and today we are smiling and exclaiming our joy at seeing this seasonal rite once more. We stand in place like statues, our necks stretched to take in the full panorama overhead.
Nellie, our dog, looks up too, sensing something important is going on up there. She doesn’t speak the language, but her animal instincts are in tune and she sits her butt down on the path so she can easily gaze at the shifting black pattern in the blue sky. Wagging her tail happily, she seems to understand. She knows it is a happy sight, something all of creation takes time to celebrate.
No matter what the calendar says, spring has not arrived until we see and hear the geese overhead. The noisy, eager honking of the geese heralds the arrival of glorious spring, the season that awakens and excites those who live in these northern parts more than any other season does. We feel successful, gratified we have survived another winter of long, dark days of snow, ice, and cold temperatures. Spring’s arrival, bringing warmer temps and a greening of the grass, trees, and plants, is our reward. Hearing the geese makes me want to chant along with their honking, celebrate their faithful return, and join in on their Song of Spring.