The air today has that soft, moist smell of spring. It wafts in through an open window. At home on a Monday, I am playing the role of full-time mommy as Adrian recoups from a fever and ear infection. We have laughed and played. Listened to the Mamas and the Papas as I beat out the rhythm with her Dora the Explorer tambourine. And we watched one of her favorite movies, Fly Away Home.
The movie is based on the true story of Bill Lishman, a Canadian who pioneered the method of teaching young birds their migratory routes using ultralight aircraft. The closing scene is full of lovely, sweeping images of the fictional main character, a little girl named Amy, flying the final few miles alone with her Canada Geese. The scene always makes me cry, but today it left a lasting sensation of longing deep in the pit of my stomach.
Migration. I spent so many years deeply engrossed in the northward and southward movement of wild birds. From mid February through late May, and then again from late August through early December, you could find me standing on the shore of a lake or lurking deep in the forest or walking through golden prairie grass—nearly every day—watching, waiting, discovering the wonder of migration.
Since Adrian came into my life, it has been more difficult to put my finger on the pulse of migration. And now that I am focusing much of my free time on training my body to endure a trail marathon, I am finding myself even more torn than before. Mother - birder - runner.
But even as I pour my energy into training, migration is happening around me. Last weekend, running the trails at Clinton Lake, I gleaned Yellow-rumped Warbler chip notes over the sound of other runners' footfalls. On treks around the neighborhood, Belted Kingfishers have uttered their toy machine-gun rattle overhead. And, of course, flocks of geese headed north and west speak the story of spring.
|Drake Cinnamon Teal among Blue- and Green-winged Teal|
Photo by Linda Williams
I'm not watching them, but I know they're there.
To know something so intimately, and yet only catch the occasional glimpse of it in passing... This is a beautiful but bittersweet sensation.