Jan. 28th, 2017

fufaraw: (red umbrella snow)
Between depression, illness, and bad weather, I hadn't left the house since last week. So yesterday OH and I went for a drive down the cliff face. All the freshets and seasonal creeks and falls are running white.

We headed out to the island to see if the snow geese had arrived yet, and as we were driving across flat farmland, we saw a small flock at about two o'clock. Another minute, and a larger flock flew over us, from our ten o'clock to four, to join with the first flock. As we watched, they eddied together, the whole flock rising and dipping, each individual changing direction and pitch with but a single thought, like schooling fish, or the murmuration of starlings. What organic mechanism enables these school/flock behaviors? So unlike our earthbound mammalian experience--to be airborne or waterborne and part of a larger whole, what must that feel like? We watched for several minutes before they settled in a faraway field to feed.

Swans are here, too, trumpeters and tundra swans, spread like patchy fluffernutter over muddy ground, their necks and breasts and feet streaked with snowmelt-soggy soil. We rarely get to see the storybook convention of swans gliding serenely on water, apparently propelled by mind control, their paddling feet hidden beneath the surface. They feed and breed here. We never see cygnets, only the grey-speckled yearlings hatched in their summer grounds and accompanying their parents back to overwinter here.

Leafless winter trees make good visibility for eagle-spotting. Dozens of bald eagles line rivers and lake edges, sharp eyes seeking spawning salmon. We passed one fellow who had his eye on red meat, mouse or vole, some field dweller, as he perched not six feet above the ground in a roadside tree overlooking a fallow field.

And the blue skies and bright sun we'd set out in had succumbed to scudding grey cloud before we headed home.


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