|By Shel Silverstien|
Autumn is a time of visible transition.
Verdant leaves funk or flame before skurriling to ground. Seawater clears, revealing empty aquatic volume where lately salmon swam and swarmed. Birds write their winged cuniforms across a lonelier sky.
People, too, flow southward in search of sun. Or, with a hint of irony, snow. Those on the water, especially, if not driven by some economic necessity, leave the long straights and stretches to we few weird-birds who haunt them at the dark of the year.
But we're in good company!
We have a special place in our hearts for the birds who stay on... ravens, crows and eagles, owls, loons, herons, kingfishers, duck of several species, juncos, thrushes, ousels, gulls and cormorants. Geese and swans make their appearances, too, often lingering long. There are little brown birds whose names I don't know, working the bush for seed and the tideline for buglings.
I take special pleasure in watching them revel in winter, right through its sterner moments. They wash and preen and fluff themselves against the cold, chattering and flirting it up. As if this were paradise. As if they were born and bred for it.
It's true that nature extends her cold claw this time of year, culling the exhausted, the inattentive, the unlucky or those whose genes bet the wrong way. Toes to the fire, I wonder at their thoughts through the long, boreal nights of rain and snow and darkness. But those who remain feed each day to keep the fires burning within their breasts.
And come spring again, their young hatch out into the waxing day.