Peeping the Land: A Survey
October 22, 2014
It seems that the swans, gone for weeks, have returned to the bay, but I am quite certain that the ones I am watching this morning are not the trumpeters that I watched all summer. Almost certainly they are migrators, tundra swans. They have stopped here to rest and to replenish themselves with mahnomen. Today or tomorrow or soon after they will wheel into the sky. Just south of here they will pick up the Mississippi River, their road, and will follow it to southern Minnesota near Winona and Alma. There they will congregate with tens of thousands of other tundras, resting and chatting, all the while feasting on the gifts of the marshes and the river’s backwaters—pond weed, arrowhead, wild celery.
When they are ready to continue, they will turn away from the Great River, will turn east, their destination the Atlantic coast where they will winter on Chesapeake Bay, tucked between Maryland and Virginia, its estuarial waters mingling with the water of the ocean, sweet and salt coming together, the line of separation blurred the way the line between fall and winter is blurred, warm mingling with cold, cold with warm, the warm ebbing until there is only ice.
How much this is like love, tentative at first, small steps into and out of water, a testing of depth, of rise and descent, the line of demarcation impossible to tell, sweet becoming salt, salt becoming sweet, a migration of the heart, a desire for nourishment and rest, for safe harbor during the inevitable final season.