Yesterday we made a pilgrimage I’ve made a half dozen times before. We drove to Freezeout Lake near Fairfield, Montana, to witness the annual spring fly-out of a hundred thousand snow geese. Our road trip was short and easy compared to the birds’ many thousand-mile journey. All we had to do was get up at 4:30 am — a totally uncivilized time of day for me (*whine*) — and drive a couple of hours. The geese (up to a half million) weren’t even midway along in their migration from central California to Alaska and the Yukon. Before arriving at Freezeout, the massive flocks of geese had made a 15 to 18 hour non-stop flight. Now that’s a journey!
Imagine sitting in your car in dark. Waiting. It’s too cold and windy to wait outside. For now. The engine is running so you can keep your feet warm. You roll the window down and hear a far off murmur.
Just before dawn the sky barely lightens. The murmur resolves like a jazz chord, into low-pitched honks and calls. You sip your hot coffee … turn off the engine. You are quiet. The prairie is quiet.
Suddenly you feel a pounding downbeat as several thousand geese erupt from the water’s surface.
The mass of black dots becomes a cloud of white. Throngs of geese lift in unison, creating a huge black and white spiral. Smooth backs reflect the twilight. Then the flocks head towards you out of the western darkness.
They are directly overhead in just minutes. Jump out of the car and listen! The sound gives you shivers. So many voices!
Look up! Life’s artistry lifts your soul. Snow geese fly in formations that shift and flex — they are writing poetry in calligraphic lines across the sky.
The incredible sound of that many geese flying overhead … going somewhere … makes me feel so connected to life. The sky and the prairie are inside me, those sounds are in my heart and my soul … I am filled with longing. To go … to explore … to belong.