I walked outside, and to this moment, I still don’t know what I was planning on doing. As soon as I got to the edge of the lawn I became captivated by the flock of migrating birds. Already, I had noticed the setting sun painting the undersides of clouds a remarkable tangerine red. I moved forward, my eyes dazzled with the color wheel opposites: red sky, deep green grass. And all somehow more dramatic for the general grey and barren trees and other skeleton plants this time of year. But this was all really about the birds.
I don’t think they were any sort of rare or endangered birds. I could tell right away by their wingspan to body ratio and shape and the crook between their heads and wings that they were gulls. Seagulls? Not around here, but maybe in a week or two they would taste the salt air again. So gulls they were, and a large flock. As this is not a common occurrence at the farm, I surmised they were migrating. I watched them fly east (I don’t usually see birds heading dead south, but mostly towards water or some other feature they understand and I don’t). As the main group drew further away from me, one or two at a time would fly after them and I would try to see where they were coming from. As I tried to focus on these stragglers to identify them (my human pattern-seeking and trained-biologist urge to compartmentalize), I was overwhelmed with their beauty.
Yes, these glorious scavengers, these trash-eating, parking lot connoisseurs were unaccountably beautiful to my eyes. The fading sunlight was dappling their undersides as rosy as the sky. They winged in perfect grace towards some destination, with a motivation our species is at least partially-if not mostly- ignorant to. The air temperature was brisk but not cold, the land and sky bright and colorful, the most profound shades reaching me through the gnarled branches of a burr oak tree. I stood and understood that in nature there is an infinite glory that we barely take the time to notice. At once, all of my senses were filled with wonder and awe. I drank it in with an insatiable thirst. To be a witness to and participant in such marvelous workings is both humbling and incredibly affirming.
I grasped what wisdom I could from this moment and tried to find peace and understanding. Moments like these are what make life meaningful. This is not a human-created artifice designed to lead my mind into a foregone conclusion. This is observation and enjoyment, plain and simple, and it doesn’t get any better than that. I did try to document the occasion, and despite the amazing power of the cellular telephone camera, the pictures cannot compare to the reality. In the 15 minutes it took me to activate the internet in order to express and share my experience; the color faded, the sun set further, and it will soon be time to shut the ducks in their home for the evening. When I venture outside, I will look forward to the next moment of inevitable beauty.