It’s quite simply: our morning constitutional.
My beloved terrier, Ivy Claire walks just ahead of me — moving back and forth across the sidewalk like a minesweeper.
The raspy sound of dried yellow leaves skittering along ahead of us, begins this, our autumnal song. Two friends, enjoying the fall chill in the air while listening to the back-up singers — which are of course the geese — honking above us in restless harmony as they begin their journey south.
With all the divisiveness and harshness in America, I’m deeply touched that all of those geese have the grace to let one lead. All the others fall in line. There are never geese competing to pass the others. They take their places creating that familiar “V” as the leader depends on its inborn senses to lead them all towards the warmth.
So many things are changing and shifting in our world, but absolutely every September and October, these reliable birds rise from the ponds and marshes without visible prompting. They have a sense of survival and a good healthy dose of loving each other as family and as traveling companions. Their spirit is now brought to the fore.
The things these geese must see from the leaden skies. The things they must wonder about, What goes on down on the landscape?
Look! There’s a woman of a certain genteel maturity walking her wire-haired fox terrier. They walk a bit slower than last year, but the brilliant trees arching over their street prompt them on. They too are on a mission of sorts. Fresh air and an uplifting of spirits.
It’s all about camaraderie. The foxy checking out the squirrels chattering and taking great leaps from tree to tree. It looks as if, the small dog walks the other to keep its best friend healthy.
They hustle along to get back to a bowl of oatmeal and cinnamon and kibble and dog snacks. The comfort of the easy chair by the window looking out at the park, and perhaps a good book or some emails from a son or a grandchild.
Down the street, the geese can observe the humans in the neighborhood outside giving their yards the last mow. Some are bent over pulling the remains of flowers that volunteer to brighten the lawns without reward. Gardens are being turned over and some neighbors are raking leaves into big piles and pruning their trees.
White sheets and bright quilts flap out on the clotheslines in the old fashioned tradition of gathering in the smell of line-dried bedding.
If the geese would look closely, they could see screens coming down and storm windows going up, on this street of historic old houses. There are certain rites of fall. The grand buttoning up of the house in preparation for the icy winds. Caulking around the front door, taking time to make good use of the straggling warm days to clean out the detritus in the newly tuned car with a whining vacuum, and finally, putting out the pumpkins and the big mums under the front porch lights.
We all know it may be a long, cold winter. But, we have these halcyon days of autumn to reflect on the season of ice and snow yet to come.
We hold our breath and hope that election day will come and go peacefully. We feel that familiar anxiety when we think of the strength of the haunting virus on the wind — the oddness of face masks and kids attending school on computers.
But, above all that, the geese fly on.