Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Whistling of the Birds

As long as I'm blathering on a bit about our neighbors to the North, I just wanted to note something interesting I discovered a week ago. This time of year is when you can't walk outside and look up without seeing a large flock or two of Canadian geese making their southward migration. As anyone who's seen the geese knows, usually they're making this surprisingly loud honking sound which can often be heard even before the flock itself moves into one's sightline.

Well, one day last week as I was arriving at The Store early in the morning, one of the larger flocks I've seen flew overhead, and two things struck me: first, they weren't honking, at all. Not a one of them was honking. And second, they were flying much lower than I am accustomed to seeing geese fly. As they passed directly overhead, I could make out the motions of their muscles as they flexed their wings, up and down, up and down.

But the coolest thing by far was something I'd never known: when the geese are silent and they're flying low enough, you can hear a pulsating whistling noise that I suppose is the air coursing through their feathers. It was an amazing thing to hear, especially in that setting: a suburban grocery store parking lot, the traffic on the New York State Thruway (Interstate 90) just half-a-mile away, and the whistling of the morning wind on the wings of the Canadian geese.

There are so many times a day that I ache for all the people in this world who go through their days without ever looking up.

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