It’s a sound that will cause anyone with the slightest degree of appreciation to turn and face the full moon, trying (usually in vain), to catch a glimpse of them. Though the moon is full, the greatest part of the sky is till too dark, too dark to see the V-shaped flight of Canada geese whose barking cry caused one to turn toward the sky.
It’s a cry whose very essence embodies a wildness that we cannot help but embrace, envy, and in some way hope to emulate. It’s a cry that, like the scream of a cougar or the howl of a wolf, carries a genetic oneness with nature that we as humans can only wish we had access to.
Though geese are large enough, as birds go, compared to us they are pretty small and their very toughness is one of the things that never fails to impact me, as I stand, usually shivering. I wonder, if the temperature down here is 30 or 25 degrees, how cold, and how dark, it must be at their altitude, at their size.
It draws my imagination into other wishes I could, or would if I could, situations — though knowing that I will never be a Canada, never fly through the frost rimmed night, calling to my brothers and sisters.
One I’d actually planned to do — then bronchitis interfered, and the chance won’t come again for another year. It involved a vaguely formed idea of going to the Blue Hole on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve, so that I could snorkel in its clarity and welcome 2011 in that manner.
Knowing people’s predilection for doing strange things, and having come to maturity in an area where many folks would go for a New Year’s Day swim in Lake Erie, I even believe I might not have been the only person in the water.
Memories of last winter’s bountiful snow bring also memories in the “glad I did” category. The alleys near my house are just fine for cross country night skiing, provided one does just that — at night. By the next morning, the previous night’s gift has tire treads all across the surface. Not once, but four or five times, was this possible last winter.
Yes, I can hear you saying, as I say, “Good thing he didn’t put it off till this winter.”
So among the embers of “Glad I did” and “Will when I can”, also burns the flame of “Will if I get the chance.” That was discovered on last May’s trip through Pagosa Springs. In the river that runs through it, I saw a very large man bounding, splashing in the water and yelling, having such a great time that I wished I had time to stop and sit in the hot springs till my blood heated up, then dive in the river, too. The wish increased when I stuck my foot in the water, and realized that, at that temperature, it must have been snow very recently.
This, of course, becomes feasible, but must be planned for. So I file it away under “two-day getaway.”
My perspective? You’ll never be a Canada goose calling to the moon, nor a panther screaming in the deep woods. But if there is something you can do, and don’t, to feel alive, you have nobody to blame but yourself if the chance slips away.