Three intertwined Vs of geese pass low over the house as I stand by the door. A chickadee had just dropped down into the bush beside me for a closer look, but the sudden clarinets spooked him, and he fled into the lilac, which is still wearing most of its leaves. “Canada geese” — we shall soon have to change the common name for these local birds that never leave the state. This is a new phenomenon since I was a kid, when we heard geese only during fall and spring migration, from high overheard. The proliferation of these so-called nuisance geese makes me both fearful and sad, like so many other things that are going haywire in the natural world. Fearful because I wonder what further changes it portends, and sad because — like hayscented fern, like white-tailed deer, like red maple — the geese are still as beautiful as they were before. Something must go wrong with our seeing, I think, if treasure can so easily turn to trash.
The goose-music, as Aldo Leopold fondly called it, echoes off the ridges for another half a minute; the course of the flock is almost parallel to the hollow. Then the chickadee returns to the bush, bringing a companion, and both birds scold me from a couple feet away. Mom only got around to putting out the feeders for the first time yesterday afternoon, but already the number of birds around the houses has increased ten-fold.
It’s around 10:00 in the morning. The sun is burning through a light cloud cover brightly enough to make faint, fuzzy shadows, many of them still inhabited by last night’s first dusting of snow.