I was back in Forest Grove, Oregon, last week, and on two consecutive mornings I made my regular pilgrimage to the Fernhill Wetlands [click here for my previous contemplations of Fernhill in a warmer month]. Ice covered the lake, not too thick but strong enough to support a crowd of Canada geese.
The first morning was cold but sunny. The geese numbered in the hundreds, maybe even a thousand. Not too many other birds; I saw only a few fat sparrows and a handful of herons. Of the human variety, I was the sole intruder.
The second morning was a Saturday. Although colder with a steady breeze, more people braved the elements; I was not alone in the gray of this frigid day. But the birds were fewer; most of the geese had gone on, likely urged southward by the cold. Perhaps they knew a freezing rain would soon arrive and their escape would be hampered.
The herons, though, seemed not much bothered by the worsening weather. They still dotted the shoreline seeking sustenance beneath the brittle edges of the iced waters. A pair of large raptors engaged in an earnest chase above the northern shore treeline; perhaps it was play, or the foreplay of mating, or maybe diligence in defense of territorial claims.
I hiked briskly that cold morning. The breeze did not allow a leisurely contemplation of the scene; the morning blew hard through me and left me empty of thought or feeling or desire. I moved quickly through the landscape, leaning like the cattails bent by wind. ♨