A new year begins with the annual gathering of winter wings, a gabbling of snow geese in a long V formation settling to the earth in fast undulating shadows, a flocking of swan winging towards an approaching sunset, their white feathers painted with the fiery glow of darkening evening skies.
To see a gathering of snow geese, filling field after field, in overwhelming numbers, offers a primeval thrill to any soul who witnesses such a massive assemblage of these proud, but wary, visitors, making their annual wintering in our back pasture lands.
Winter to the goose, swan and their quacking waterfowl cousins, means packing their bags and abandoning the lush tundra gardens of the north, taking to the skies and joining their companions, to wing their way to southern wintering grounds from the Chesapeake to the Carolinas vast goose heavens.
These massive winged movements require unerring skills in their bi-annual flights, including three to four thousand miles of navigation which inspired, no less an authority than Oliver W Holmes to assert: A goose flies by a (navigational) chart which the Royal Geographic Observatory could not improve.
Is there a soul so dead that does not find that wild thrill which comes to us earth bound land-lubbers watching squadron after squadron of these travel weary swan and geese, like a blizzard of white, dropping out of the darkening heavens, not unlike snow fluttering down upon the tawny acres of winter grasses?
To listen to their muffled voices in musical whistling excitement is to open another window, revealing a world filled with unmatched tales of life and graceful beauty. To visit their wintering grounds surrounding our various state and national wildlife refuges is to discover a diversity of the enchanted beauty which, like sleeping swans, is forever floating upon those silvered waves of which our dreams are founded. <<