Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Today the first violet-green swallows are daning in the air above my house. They have returned to feast on th eemerging insect population. It put me in mind of the flock of snow geese I saw three weeks ago as I walked off to another journey away from my island.

The snow geese are amazing. Every year they make the 4000 km trek from their breeding grounds in the Russian Arctic on Wrangel Island down this way where they overwinter at the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in t fRaser River Estuary, about 30 kilometers due south of here. They come in huge waves, by the thousands in the autumn and the leave again in early April or late March to head north. They can be heard flying high over head in honking and enthusiastic clouds. It is an impressive sight, and on many occaisions I have witnessed life in the Cove come to a standstill as people gaze skyward at the noisy pepper above.

The geese are almost archetypal to me. The represent the opening and the closing of seasons. When they appear overhead in March, it is as if they are opening the door on spring, trailing with them the promise of warmer weather and fertile ground. When the head south in the fall, they take with them the harvest and the last remnants of summer and the signal the beginning of the storm season. The gees always seem to make it back here befor ethe hurracanes come, Flying in the fall storms would be suicidal, so once they are tucked down in the fields and marshes of the estuary, it's as if the rainy season is welcomed.

So I was remiss in noticing their passing north to Russia. The season is truly shifting now and the geese have left to begin their renewal on the shores of the Arctic Ocean, leaving us to plant, harvest and steward a nother year of living on Bowen Island.