Jilly D.

The geese brought me home

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on March 21, 2014 at 2:56 pm

966591-R1-04-5AGeese return from their southern migration in March. Our pond serves as a way station along their flight pattern. The first couples arrive ahead of the others. With first dibs on the lush nesting areas in the natural habitat, the geese are happy to be here. They lay their eggs and wait for the rest of the geese to follow within days.

When the gang is all here there must be a thousand birds or more in the pond. It is a marvelous sight. If you didn’t see them, you’d swear you were listening to a big party at the neighbors: the talking, squawking, rustling, and splashing sounds like humans gathered in celebration.

The first spring when the geese arrived on Warren Pond and I observed them as a woman who was loved, I found their monogamy charming. I had decided to get my tubes tied after Sam and I had discussed our mutual reluctance in becoming parents at this stage of our lives. Snip, snip; outpatient surgery.

My scholarly work schedule dictated a trip to the Washington, DC, area the weekend after my procedure. Consulting for an organization on quality of life issues, I still neglected some of my own.  I packed up and was ready to depart for DC when I noticed the geese honking at me from the pond. Sam reluctantly sent me off on my trip. The geese followed.

As I traveled the interstate south I noticed the flock of geese as though they were tracking me and my vehicle. Five long hours driving south with rest stops along the way, I kept observing these same geese. When I reached the Maryland border, I thought for sure they had found their breeding ground. That night I noticed the bruising on my abdomen; physical evidence of my new lack of fertility. Not acknowledging the trauma and significance of a tubal ligation, I threw myself into my work.

As we sat during our conference meetings, I kept noticing how many geese had inhabited the surrounding lawns. Odd, I thought, that geese should linger here when they are so close to their destination.

Canada_goose_flight_cropped_and_NRWhen I got in my car to make the journey home, I noticed a noisy goose in the yard. She honked at me louder than the horn on my dashboard. I sped off toward Interstate Route 81 north. Just as I got to the onramp and picked up speed I saw one goose take flight and then others appeared out of nowhere to join her. I headed north and so did this group of geese. They tracked me all the way home. As I pulled into driveway down to the cabin, the geese made an incredible swoosh landing on Warren Pond.

This is true and based on direct observations of facts. I couldn’t look it up in the library. The geese brought me home. I couldn’t explain it. I could only know it. And my knowledge was visceral; escaping words altogether.

Self-Reliance-Ralph-Waldo-EmersonThe transcendence of nature resonated with my recollections of books I’d read decades ago in school. I reread Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Sam had never read these books and yet he lived their wisdom. How did he know this stuff? What I hadn’t understood when I read them as an adolescent was their enduring relevance. Sam didn’t need the words; he put ideas into practice. Reason is a tool to solve problems and fix things.

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  1. Wonderful post Jill! Here is a quote from the book I’m writing that I think is relevant to your observed Geese experience:

    “Not long after my husband Harold died, the realization that I was feeling like a lost child in general in my life—I had lost two husbands to cancer in the span of 15 years, and this was taking its toll on me—was triggered when I found myself lost in a part of my hometown that I was unfamiliar with. Looking at the world in a symbolic way helps connect us to what others of a more analytical persuasion might miss altogether when meaningful coincidences occur their lives. When using symbolism and metaphor as a key to unlock inner knowing, birds become bearers of messages, being lost heralds a time of transformation, and a stolen purse signifies an inner identity crisis. You will find that the practice of opening in this way to a world that is naturally endowed with symbolic meaning brings with it the understanding that “reality” is more than what can be discerned with the objective eye.”

    All the best,

    Jenna

  2. I felt this one deep down, Jill. They brought you home! Love it.

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