Saturday, September 17, 2011

First Signs of Fall

Nature's first signs of fall have already come and gone. And it is only the middle of September! Fall is so ephemeral, each day there is something different. But the first weeks, the signs of fall come and go with a subtlety that the observer might miss the significance.

The weather has been very summer-like until the beginning of this week just past. Temperatures in the 80's or thunderstorms and monsoon quantities of rainfall. So who would be thinking of fall except children and their parents who are back in school? But school buses resuming their rumbling up and down the roadway in front of my house was not a part of Nature's change of seasons. Not the first signs of fall to which I refer.

One morning in early September, I woke up to a cacophony of geese noises. I smiled. The Canada Geese had arrived. Each year these beautiful birds gather in the field across the street from my house. At first there are only a dozen or so wading through the tall grass searching for a meal. But as the days pass, more and more geese join them. They don't stay there all day. They take off on other business around mid-morning. But they always return for breakfast and each morning their numbers increase.

A week ago - last Saturday morning - when I went out with my dog for his early morning constitutional, I counted the geese. There were fifty of them. It was fun to see them react to my dog's presence. They were close to the road and when he trotted down our driveway to pick up our newspaper, the geese began stretching their neck straight up and honking. Many began flapping their wings, not to take off, but to appear larger and more imposingly ferocious. My dog watched them briefly but knew he had his own job to do - collect the newspaper. He also knew he wasn't allowed to cross the street without one of us with him. The geese settled down when they saw he wasn't going to chase them and continued with their morning's breakfast.

It is always an amazing sight when the geese take off after their breakfast. They circle around the field in large groups, forming larger and larger groups in the sky. All the while they honk and honk (I imagine they are calling instructions to each other - which group is positioned where in the order - where they plan to go that day - etc.). Then suddenly they veer off in one direction or another. Sometimes they fly right over my house.

Last Saturday, after they left, the farmer began mowing the field. It isn't really a field of hay or any other crop. It is just grass. So I guess I should really call it a meadow. It doesn't even have a fence around it. But we are very happy it is a meadow or a field and not a swath of houses.

Sunday morning came. No geese.
No cacophonous honking.
The first signs of fall have come and gone.

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