Flying south

This morning when I took the puppy outside, I heard what sounded like a thousand birds all singing at once. Then with a whir like helicopters taking flight, hundreds rose from the field across the road and were airborne in such numbers as covered a large patch of sky.

6-25 Page 4A.inddAt first I wasn’t sure what they were. They looked black from a distance but were much too small to be crows. As they whirled and flew across the housetop, I could see they were truly black.

I stood outside for perhaps 15 minutes just to watch.

They appeared to be migrating, and they had all the characteristics of blackbirds. A little research confirmed my guess. Blackbirds they were.

This made me realize that the predicted cold snap is really going to happen, as blackbirds need warmer areas for food supplies.

Although I don’t know where they will end up, I wish them well and hope there will be seeds and berries and bugs enough to go around.

They’re pretty little birds. It amazes me to know that somehow, through some miraculous bird telepathy, they know they should leave.

How do they know and how do they communicate this knowledge to others in the flock?

There’s comfort in knowing once again this taken-for-granted miracle of nature is once again taking place, just as it has for years on end.

We assume this will always be the way of things and don’t think twice about it.

The sugar maple in our front yard is another such miracle. Years ago, Mama made a gift of it to us. It was no more than three feet tall at the time, and frankly I thought we’d probably be dead before it grew large enough to make an impact.

Just another thing I was wrong about. All week it has been a thing of beauty, and each day has shown us another variation of color in its leaves.

Another nice surprise is the white crepe myrtle on the edge of the driveway. Its leaves are a bright golden yellow, really prettier than the blooms it bears in the heat of summer.

Crepe myrtles are just one more example of the ever-changing face of nature. The trunks of older trees are ivory-colored and the peeling bark is as pretty in its way as that of the river birch.

Even after the leaves fall, the seed pods are still there.

One of the most beautiful trees growing wild in our woods is the sweet gum, with its scarlet leaves. After the leaves fall, the sweet gum balls are clearly visible. People used to dip them in paint and hang them on the Christmas tree or fasten them onto Christmas wreaths.

As children, we sometimes inadvertently stepped on them while running barefoot in the grass. It taught us to watch where we stepped.

Now that the blackbirds are leaving, we know winter is coming soon. The calendar says it won’t officially arrive until December, but in our world, anything below 55 degrees qualifies as winter weather, so we much prepare ourselves. And, although winter isn’t my favorite season, I realize that without winter we couldn’t have spring.

So bye, bye blackbird. Have a great trip. See you soon.