The geese said goodbye today. Autumn has swallowed the world, her cool winds signaling another peaceful end to another marker, another milestone, another memory saying goodbye again to my feathered friends.
I don’t know how they manage to find me every year, alone, never within shouting distance of another being. And I – usually basking in the quiet of the season. The trees which had not long ago been so alive, so loudly singing the praises of life in summer breezes, now quietly adorning themselves with the color of sleep. The quiet is indeed overwhelming, the loam of browning grasses seem to soak up any remaining sounds of the year. That’s always when the geese come to say goodbye.
They first found me at the age of twelve, sitting along the bank of a child’s lake, dawbling and bobbling a small fly hook to the interest of a few tiny bluegill. “Goodbye John,” they said to me in voices I clearly understood. “We’ll come again once this pond has frozen and thawed again. Happy times, friend. Happy times.” And their trailing honks left me alone, their final formation a salute to our beginning friendship. I’ve returned to that spot many times during my life with that memory burgeoning from my seams. Not to fish. Just to remember a simpler time. It is truly just a pond.
Some years are more memorable than others – when they have come to say goodbye. The year of my marriage. The years that each of my children were born. The year my mother died. And father too. Those are the markers. I needn’t return to those memories. I live them everyday.
And what shall become of today’s encounter? When they flew low above with recognizable voices and said “Goodbye old friend, til another year new. We shall miss you.”
So shall I.
|And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.
|The Autumn, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning|