A couple of weeks ago I was walking through the corn fields when a flock of geese honked their flight above me. About 30 wild geese dotted the sky with their familiar “V”. Heading south for warmer climes, they bid farewell to summer. A day or two later another flock called over my head, and now a daily goose gathering proceeds along the migration route over our house toward food, water, and warmth.
I count the geese as they pass overhead. Most groups now range from 30-50 geese, each passing along the route marked by many generations of geese ago. My memory tells me that this migration is coming earlier this year than in years past. Noting the changing colors of the trees, I am certain that the geese have sped up the process this year. Usually the trees here don’t change for another month or more.
I don’t know what tells the geese to move along in larger and larger groups, but I do know the processes that change chlorophyll. I know colder nights, changes in sunlight, and leaves’ length of time on the branches all combine to mark the beginning of autumn. Some of the changes are scientific, and some of them are instinctual.
This is the year change begins in our home. Our older child is a Senior in high school. He has a job, attends college part-time, and does his own laundry. He has his own bank account and recently purchased some of his own clothing. This week we go to visit a college that interests him for next year.
I see the changes. I know what causes them. Some are scientific, and some are instinctual. The bigger question is not how or why the changes occur, but how will I react to them? Are the changes a call of goodbye to summer, or are they a happy hello to autumn?
I like cooler nights with open windows and chirping crickets. I enjoy the warm kitchen smells of pumpkin muffins and pots of soup. Wrapped in a warm, fuzzy sweater, I wrap my hands around a hot cup of peppermint tea and know that each change brings a certain continuity to the world.
Just like the generations of geese that migrated before, young men have always grown and gone away, only to return home next spring.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecc 3:1 ASV