Sunday, November 9, 2014

The sky is so much bigger out here....

I was outside on my knees in the dirt, building a retaining wall out of rock harvested from the property for the planned front garden of the story house when I heard the geese. A fiddly breeze lifted sounds to me: a barking dog, the drone of a small-engine plane, the faint base notes of the music Chris and David listen to when they work--and then the geese. I heard them before catching sight of them. Their song brought me to my feet, had me backing up, scanning the sky that was in late afternoon a shade of endless blue. The geese came over the roof peak, their flight pattern a wishboned white ribbon limned in shades of gray and silver. I was lost, watching, hearing their ancient cries. In awe, not thinking in words, really, of the eternality of their ritual, but feeling it more as a resonation ... that it has gone on since time began and will continue long after I am gone. Seeing them, hearing them, never fails to touch some basic note within me, one that is as deep as bone, deeper even, and I understand, if only in that moment, the concept that is inherent in the word "eternal" and all else, all other noise, whatever there is of strife, is stilled. I feel joined to them and to the sky and the breath of the breeze that is from the very air that we--the geese and I--share.

This poem, from Mary Oliver, is one of my favorites. That line: Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air. . . 

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


  1. Did you get to hear and/or spot any sandhill cranes headed south? Oh, my, I ALWAYS stop what I'm doing if I hear them! This fall, two separate flocks of travelers circled over our house, perhaps taking a break before reforming and letting another crane take the lead. Awesome!

    1. Oh, I'm so glad for your comment! I saw a flock of what I know now are the sandhill cranes driving home from Marble Falls last week. I caught sight of their longer legs, just their overall shape and thought to myself how they looked like sea birds of some kind, and now I know they were and I know what kind! And that's awesome! Thank you!

  2. I could have been writing your words myself. I am out gardening and I hear the sand hill cranes way, way up in the sky. I too scan the heavens and eventually they come into focus. It's a magic moment and occurs twice a year, when they are heading up and when they are heading back down. I think it wonderful that so many of us share a similar moment in our lives.