Out of the fog.

Sometimes, the sighting of a bird is old news. This happens because the bird is common, an everyday thing.

I thought about that today while hanging around a small, woodland lake.

White fog came in, and things became quiet. The water was flat and gray. Overhanging branches were barely visible through the mist.

A pair of Canada Geese swam into view.

They’re all too common around here, and have been for years. A good example of a bird that’s become old news.

Yet, they didn’t seem like old news as they glided out of the fog. Their gray, black and white colors matched the background.

Their reflections in the flat water made them anything but an everyday sight. Hell, they were a painting. Could’ve been in a museum.

A memory came back…

I’m maybe ten or twelve, wandering through a dismal prairie south of Chicago. Rail tracks, weeds, garbage, a pond formed by recent rain.

One Canada Goose landed there, and was resting.

This was rare. We never had Canada Geese back then. I watched the big, wild bird, and I thought: pretty cool.

A teenage kid from our nearby industrial neighborhood waded into the knee-deep water with a shotgun.

I’d never seen a gun fired outside of the movies.

One wing got blasted off. The goose fluttered on the pond’s surface, crying out, splashing in a circle. It was unmoving when the older kid got to it.

Now, a lifetime later, as two geese glided out of the fog on the little lake where I hike, I remembered that ugly scene.

These birds might have become old news around here most days. But at the moment, watching them, I thought: pretty cool.


7 Responses to “Out of the fog.”

  1. Peg Callihan says:

    I remember so well back in the early 70s driving miles from Washington DC to the Eastern Shore to see the Canada Geese. The sound of hundreds of them dropping out of the sky onto a corn field to feed, their beautiful earthen colors and their huge size… Years later as I watched the GooseBusters truck in New York’s Central Park remove the great birds and I kept my dog from eating goose poop, I still saw the geese as the magnificent survivors that they are.

  2. Peter says:

    It is funny how modest birds can evoke emotion and memory. This morning I saw a big flock of Redpolls bouncing around the birch trees in front of the house. I got out my spotting scope and watched one male for quite awhile with a group feeding on seeds. He was glowing with vitality and as always left me wondering how they can make it through a tough winter like we’ve had here in Alaska. Amazing little folk.

  3. Mary M says:

    I remember childhood, it was a long time ago but I do remember. The impressions and realities of young life have a way of following us like a shadow. Some things we would like to forget, but the impression was so great that it refuses to be left behind. I don’t like fog……. It’s just one of those things.

  4. Marc D. says:

    Fog that erases the boundary of earth and sky. Fog that beclouds the minds of thoughtless youth, that muffles the sound of conscience, fog that erodes the harsh clarity of reality, that enwraps, excludes and isolates with vaporous, illusionary protection.

  5. norm schaefer says:

    I hope the little B—— with the gun got his comeuppance. (sp?) But the geese have had their revenge. Now everybody mutters about these cantankerous beasties.

  6. Bill Webb says:

    Let’s hope the kid with the shotgun remembered it, too.

  7. Jeff says:

    Are some memories better lost in the fog of the past, too faint to impact the occasional purity of present experience?