Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Flyways and Thruways (SWF)

The path is one of certainty.
A long, straight road, with few opportunities to escape—the trimmings bounding it edged, now, with field fencing sporting the bright orange drift guards of an upstate New York winter.
An otherwise gray drive in every way—from the concrete roadway, stained white with salt, to the thick clouds meeting snow-covered hills in the distance. And carrying, this time, a sadness that floods my mind with the many previous drives made over many previous years.


I have traveled the New York State Thruway countless times since leaving home for college thirty years ago, two figures waving from the driveway each time, as I left. Back and forth along its flat course from its eastern origin to its arrival in Buffalo, watching the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains dissolve into the wide, spreading land of the Niagara escarpment, and beyond. Measuring our progress in the passing of small river towns along the Mohawk, the smokestacks of industry, billowing. Until, curving southward at Lake Erie, past sloping hillsides planted in grapes, we reached Pennsylvania and Ohio. And made a new home.


With bags of snacks between us, and wrappings for winter weather stowed handily behind our seats, we left hugs and kisses, this time upon just one, and began, once again, the 12-hour journey, westward, to Ohio.
On this day, gazing mindlessly off into the gray, I saw large formations of geese crossing overhead, as never before. Their Vs shifting and sliding, as if drawn across by some unseen force, turning and tilting. One after another, in fluid strings of more than a hundred individuals.


And I watched, amazed at the sheer numbers in this unending dance that will, season after season, be performed.
The travelers above travelers—on Flyways and Thruways.

image credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge consists of over 7000 acres of wetland habitat in central New York State. It is situated "in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway," and is cut in half by the NYS Thruway.


See more Skywatch here.



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24 comments:

giggles said...

Have you ever been to Cape May, NJ in the fall?! Migration central, as it is the last stop on land for many a species before a long flight over ocean.... This fall, having visited there for the first time in over 15 years (maybe even 20!)with my daughter's 6th grade class, I saw my first peregine falcon....hawks, eagles ducks egrets...it was quite a day...it is a fabulous place to bird.... They even have a monarch tagging program!! The demonstration brought tears to my eyes...the miracle of it all....

Your prose is quite thought provoking... Thanks.

bobbie said...

This is so beautiful, Nina. Both your words and photos.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I am sorry to hear that you have lost someone close to you Nina. Maybe the face in the sky made by the geese is the face you missed seeing in the doorway waving goodbye.

Geese are improving in numbers. I wonder when they will saturate their native habitat and cause their numbers to decline again. Life can be a vicious cycle.

nina said...

Giggles--I have not been to Cape May, though I know several who go regularly in the fall just for that reason.
It is amazing to have such activity going on overhead--and along this stretch of road, though I've driven it many times, I had never seen it like this!

Mary said...

Dear Nina,

Beautifully written, as usual...my heart breaks and I sigh...

(((Hugs)))

Mary

Robert V. Sobczak said...

And both honking !!!

Naturegirl said...

Nina your words are poetry and I know these geese so well..a constant in our skies.

MojoMan said...

Nina, Like the comings and goings of the geese, our lives also have cycles. I remember years of driving New York highways to visit my parents. First, both of them when I first went away, then one, then I didn't have to make the trip anymore. Then our son went to school in Rochester, and we got to drive the Thruway again. The same landscape you describe always fills me with both nostalgia and melancholy. It brings back memories of the best days of my life and sadness over futures that never happened. Thanks for taking me back.

hitch writer said...

Really lovely pictures.... well said too..

Beth said...

so lovely and thoughtful--all of your posts are but this one was wistful as well. Thank you for all that you share.

Alan said...

Your AWESOME Nina!

PJ said...

What a fabulous photo essay, I swear I can see Alfred Hitchcock's profile in the birds. Thanks for sharing.

Deborah Godin said...

This was such a sweetly melancholy post (one of my favorite sentiments!) You have perfectly captured in photos and words the feelings of the season; a time for reflection, the gentle leave taking, the loss, all necessary for the coming renewal and return in spring. Beautiful!

Max-e said...

First of all it looks cold but great photos. And then seeing those geese migrating must be amazing. Our Egyptian geese do not fly around in flocks like that. It is usually in pairs

Photo Cache said...

Oh what pleasure it is to see your photos of migrating birds. Happy weekend.

dAwN said...

Very beautiful..thanks for sharing your wonderful writing..

Natural Moments said...

It's always an amazing feeling to watch animals and birds fly by by the 100's and 1,000's... There collective energy and enthusiasm spills over to those who appreciate them. Happy birding everyday.

pts said...

beautiful!

Arija said...

A wonderfully thoughtful and evocative post well illustrated by beautiful pictures.

Pam said...

Beautifully written.

Gretchen said...

Great shots and information! Happy SWF!!! :)

Mary said...

This is great! All those lines of geese in the final shot are amazing.

Kristine said...

once again your prose is so fitting, i was out there by the Montezuma Wildlife refuge, it is beautiful.

Marie said...

Very nice post :)