Friday, November 18, 2011

winter confusion

We truly live in a magical valley. Amazing events happen regularly when wild nature is out your window, along the road you drive to the grocery store or walking along a river. Driving today, on roads truly treacherous, we looked up into a glowering sky and saw a flock of thousands of snow geese milling about in confusion. The clouds were low, light snow was falling. The geese had obviously been heading south trying to make it over Lost Trail Pass and been forced to turn back by the storm. Glancing around, we saw more flocks, farther away, swirling flecks against the sky that looked like rippling waves on gray water. We drove to the Lee Metcalf  Refuge and stopped directly under the biggest flock, looked up at their white bellies, wings tipped in black and listened to the cacophony of sound, like a symphony of oboes! Wondrous, soaring sounds as these snow geese communicated obviously mixed messages until the flock finally gathered enough to all head north.  We lost them low over a field a mile or so away. There is still open water at the refuge and thirteen swans have settled there to wait out the storm along with hundreds of ducks. The swans were gorgeous of course, until they went bottoms up to feed. Then they looked like mini-icebergs! Anyway, we were lucky enough to witness a migration miracle. By tomorrow when the storm lifts, I imagine thousands and thousands of snow geese filling the skies above Stevensville, Corvallis and Hamilton down the valley over Darby and Sula as they wing their way to the open grasslands of Idaho where they'll pig out and prepare for the next "leg" of their journey south.

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