THE GREAT MIGRATION

My cousin Curt and his wife, Judy gave us a subscription to Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, a bi-monthly periodical which is reader-supported and encourages conservation and careful use of Minnesota’s natural resources.( http://www.mndnr.gov/magazine)  It was a lovely and thoughtful way to welcome us to a new life and frankly, we couldn’t have enjoyed it more. So how appropriate it seemed when I picked up the March-April 2011 issue today and opened to the contents page to see a lovely photo of snow geese flying north on their early spring migration across the top of the first two pages, along with the quote from Scott Weidensaul from “Living on the Wind” – “Bird migration is the one truly unifying natural phenomenon in the world, stitching the continents together in a way that even the great weather systems, which roar out from the poles but fizzle at the equator, fail to do.”

I am stunned by the poetry in that one sentence. And amazed at the significance it suggests. Just imagine anything being the “one truly unifying natural phenomenon in the world”.  The article that follows, by Lee Pfannmuller entitled “Spring Birding Showcase”, explains how “as snow melts and ice becomes open water, three waves of migratory birds sweep through Minnesota, giving birders a front-row seat to a really big show”.  It includes the first wave of various waterfowl, the second wave of shorebirds, and the third wave consisting of songbirds.  Not this year, but hopefully next, we’ll be out at the lakes and marshlands, out on the trails with our binoculars, experiencing that really big show.

The birds make the migration against extraordinary hazards in “perhaps the most compelling drama in all of natural history”.  One hopes we won’t find our migration when it happens, as dramatic as all that.  I’m already worried enough about the logistics of moving our cranky 16 year old Burmese cat, Cosmo.  And hoping the cross country trip will take place sans tornados, ice or snow.  And that I can convince Robert that, no, he should NOT rent a large van himself to move our belongings.  No. No. No.  Mind you, I’ve always considered him to be a very good driver.  Except  for a period years ago, when he tried to pass on the long horseshoe curve where the Little Sur River empties into the sea. That was always his favorite “passing spot” on our town trips, because he said it provided such great long range visability.  What I said, I can’t really repeat here, except that it had something to do with yelling about not liking the “G Force”.   And he would tell me if I was so nervous I should just “buckle up” and use my seat belt (which should give you an idea of just how long ago this was occurring).  I think we had some crazy notion in those days before the seat belt law, that if we were catapulting over a Big Sur cliff our chances for survival were much greater if we were thrown out rather than riding the car to the bottom.  There’s a interesting  choice!  But needless to say he stopped the “passing frenzy’ many years ago and has been a safe and responsible driver ever since. And I think he’s definitely earned a break and should “leave the driving” to someone else.  I definitely want to feel that in our migration we will somehow be “stitching” two far flung parts of this country together and that we will not “fizzle” in the process.

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