I walked outside this morning to enjoy the cooler, drier air that is forecast to depart the Houston area later today. As I stood in the back garden, watching it wake up to the day, I heard strange cries coming from the sky. I looked up to see a flock of eight to ten huge birds flying low overhead. I got chills ... in all my years of watching for the first geese to arrive, I've never seen them this early. I was filled with hope and awe, and gratitude I was there at that moment.
I came inside to report what I'd seen to friends and after they too had expressed delight and wonder, we began to discuss the earliness of the birds' arrival and how surprising it was. Inevitably the question was raised: are you sure they were geese? I thought about that question as I worked in the garden this morning. As I relived the experience in my mind, I remembered that the birds' cries, which first alerted me to their presence, were indeed different. This afternoon I did a little Googling and while I'm still not sure what the birds were, my best guess is that they were some type of crane.
What I am sure about is that my experience was no less moving or uplifting for the mistake in identity. Rather than disparage and discount the feelings those birds inspired in me, I want to acknowledge and honor them. It's been a hot and steamy August, and the days have dragged by, dragging my spirits down as the temperatures climb. What I felt when I saw them is no less real and no less valid to me because they were something other than my usual harbinger of autumn weather. The hope with which those birds filled me is real, speaking to me of days to come when I'll be able to spend entire days outside, marveling at nature's beauty and doing my part to encourage it. The awe I felt was real: those birds in flight were an amazing meld of natural engineering and innate grace. And the gratitude I felt for being there at that moment? That was real, too. I was blessed and uplifted by being there to witness their flight.