Last night, I saw something confusing and more than a bit cautionary. Around 7.30 p.m. I stepped out of the back door to put plastic trays into our outside recycling bin and was met with a horrendous hullabaloo. Wild geese flying overhead. Lots of them. Flying south.
Geese fly south around November to avoid the Arctic snow and ice but in mid- February? On February 13th? Was this a sign of bad luck?
Nope! I wasn’t buying that one. Friday 13th February, 1981, was a very lucky one for me because my second daughter was born and she’s been a delight to see grow into a wonderful adult. (I’m doubly lucky because my elder daughter is like that, too and I’m not in the least biased *insert smiley face* ) So, Friday 13th isn’t a bad omen for me.
Did the birds hate the Valentine’s Day hype as much as many of their human friends, and were they ‘on the run’? My husband never buys me flowers on Valentine’s Day – on purpose – because the selection and freshness isn’t as good as during the rest of the year. I don’t feel at all short-changed about this because Alan got into the habit of buying me flowers every few weeks when we lived in Holland during 1979-1981 (my daughters are both ‘little cloggies’). The flower buying habit, I’m delighted to say, was never broken and I get surprised with a bunch or two of flowers, on a regular basis all year round.
Back to the geese, though. Why were they flying south and not north? What weather were they trying to warn me about? A wee farmer’s weather rhyme of north-east Scotland popped into my head but, for some reason, it didn’t make me feel any better about the geese and weather predictions.
Wild geese, wild geese gangin tae the sea (this would be them flying east)
Guid weather it will be.
Wild geese, wild geese gangin tae the hill, (to the Grampian Highlands of the west)
The weather it will spill.
Well, today is utterly dreich, the haar so thick and low it’s definitely a dreary day. Aberdeenshire mist has its own lovely name – haar. The mist is dense and such that you can almost taste it, though it’s not smog, or even fog. We get dreich haar pretty often but that’s not something out of the ordinary that the geese would be giving warning of.
We’ve had very little snow this winter season in my village, only a dusting lasting for a few days before melting away. We’ve had frosty nights but again nothing that we’d call really cold. Signs of spring have already appeared in my garden – snowdrops and aconites already in bloom, the tips of daffodils and tulips now some 2 inches high. Do those geese last night know something that I don’t? Are we going to be deluged in the coming weeks with the huge amounts of snow that some of my US friends have been experiencing?
While I was wondering how to avoid that thought, another famous children’s poem about geese came to mind: Something told the wild geese by Rachel Field (I can copy here because this poem is in the public domain. The image is ‘Wild Geese and Reeds’ by Hsi-Yuan Fang – Wikimedia commons)
Something told the wild geese
It was time to go
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered – “Snow”.
Leaves were green and stirring,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned – “Frost.”
All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered Ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly
Summer sun was on their wings
Winter in their cry.
A lovely poem, but I would have been using this in my primary school classes in November, not February. The poem/song is often sung by young choirs and is now repeating itself over and over in my head. You might know it …or if not, listen to the video and you’ll probably enjoy it’s simplicity, too.
This is my granddaughter’s favourite Youtube version of the poem/song, though you’ll find a few other nice ones.
(More here about Rachel Field –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Field )
I know very little about the geese that do a fly past over my house though the most common, I believe, is the pink-footed goose. The ones who winter in the UK have summer breeding grounds in Greenland and Iceland, though there are other pink-feet which fly south from Svalbard/Spitsbergen, Norway and over winter in the Netherlands and Denmark. Around 50 miles north-east of my house, at Newburgh on the coast, a large population annoys the farmers every year when they have their field-stripping-pecking-parties. There’s another population that overwinters around 12 miles to the south-east of me, also near the coast. ( Pink-footed geese )
However, knowing that still didn’t explain why the birds last night were flying south! Thrilling winds of change are upon me and my family as we work through our domestic upheaval (perhaps updates on that another day). Exciting winds of change are about to burst forth with regard to my writing projects as well with a new book release and 2 re-releases.
But I truly hope that those wild geese know what they are doing, because if the wild birds are confused it might not herald good changes to our weather systems. (Sadly, that cautionary side of me is also nagging that it is only mid-February and it has been known for us in Scotland to have snow in June, though I hope not this year.)
What do you think the geese were telling me last night? Do you enjoy watching them fly past your house?
Wishing you all a lovely weekend, whatever your weather throws at you!
Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures, contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel adventure. The Taexali Game is coming soon.
Also at many other ebookstores: Tesco, Waitrose, Waterstones, W.H. Smith…
ps – here’s another nice ‘Wild Geese ‘ poem