Most afternoons at work, I take the dogs for a stroll around the parking lots of adjoining offices. While it is not my ideal “nature walk,” the area is surrounded by trees that are now dappled with the brilliant colors of autumn. It does afford me the time to be away from a desk and breathe in the cool, fresh breeze of my favorite season.
As we were rounding the empty bank building last Tuesday, a sudden, loud barking noise penetrated the silence. I turned quickly to find nothing behind us, and as I paused to search the woods, the noise pierced my ears again. I looked up to find a flock of Canadian geese making their way to a new home for the winter. Instead of flying higher up in the windstream, however, they hung in the sky so low that I imagined the tops of the trees tickling their bellies.
Their harsh squawking and honking continued as they passed overhead, and I pondered the journeys yet to come that filled their conversation.
Wild Geese by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
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