Rhyme and reason
Thursday, November 10, 2016 9:29 AM
There are no utility poles strung with wires running alongside the creek road that leads back to the cabin, only trees, fields and our pasture fence line the road.
That is because our world is off-grid, and solar panels generate all of our electric energy, but as I pass through the farm fields on my way up to town, I pass under the wires that bring electricity to my neighbors.
This time of year, I pass under countless birds, perched on the tops of the poles and balancing on the wires, as they stop to rest before heading farther south.
The other morning, as I stepped outside to switch out the dogs and let the penned up dog run free while the other settled in for a nap, I was struck by the silence of the chill morning air. No song birds were singing. No tree frogs were chirping. The air was still.
I unlatched the metal gate to let out our dog, and my bare fingers felt the blister of the metal’s below-freezing cold.
It occurred to me that it would have been a good idea to wear gloves, even on this brief outside venture, but my musings were instantly interrupted.
From over the hill behind the cabin, I heard the suddenly approaching sound of cymbals clanging, the beat of drums, and a deep but shrill call.
I looked up as the tip of a familiar triangle edged over the valley’s ridge. The point was quickly followed by literally hundreds of geese, noisily winging their way south.
I stood still, looking upward, my hands stuck deep inside my pockets, watching until the last tails of the triangle passed across the creek valley and out of sight.
The sound of the raucous honking quickly faded away.
It seems that even as a city child, I had always known that geese fly in a “V” formation to lessen wind resistance.
The point bird breaks the wind for those to the immediate left and right, as they in turn do for the birds that fly behind them. Economy of energy, as they make the long flight south, is certainly a wise adaptation.
But why the loud and incessant honking? Surely it takes energy to sustain such a loud racket. Back inside the cabin, cup of coffee by my side, I pulled out my cell phone and typed in my query.
I quickly learned that what seemed to have no rhyme, actually did have a reason.
As I had just witnessed, the migrating geese do honk continuously as they fly, and in doing so, they call to any stray birds, or smaller groups of geese, to join their number.
The larger the formation, the farther they can fly without the need to rest, as each bird rides on the draft of the birds ahead.
Perhaps I can learn from these geese on the wing. Even though there may be times that I feel the urge to be like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand, there are other times when I know that there is comforting strength, and greater endurance, in numbers.
But guess what? Ostriches do not really bury their heads in the sand. They are simply reaching down, with their beautiful long necks, so they can turn their eggs, safely incubating eggs in nests they have buried deep in the warm sand. There really is rhyme and reason to even the most curious of things.
Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.