Friday, October 19, 2012

My Brother the Goose Whisperer

While the competing views of nature as either bleak waste, red in tooth and claw, or a Disneyland inhabited by anthropomorphic herbivores still shape many discussions of the place of humans in the world, the practical reality is not so simple, as I'm sure you, dear reader, know well. There's lots to say and lots that's been said about the predator/prey relationship, and the strange subversion of this relationship that is animal husbandry. But this is not my interest today. Today I want to write about the unexpected, the beauty and the wonder that abound.

We are well into fall, and most of the trees on the farm have disrobed, leaving their hardened skeletons to chatter at one another through another blustery winter. On several long drives over the past weeks I've been struck by the subtle shifts in foliage that accompany descent and ascent, the confluence of temperature and time that shape the colors of autumn - drop into the Hudson valley, and the trees are two weeks behind, still merry in their reds and aflame in their oranges.

Last spring, out hunting turkey, a bobcat padded through the morning woods, twenty feet from where my brother and I sat. Its gray ears twitched at my brother's whisper, and it turned and vanished silently back into the trees.

I heard little from the coyotes last year, but of late their eerie yips and howls have filled the night, exciting a frenzy in the village dogs and keeping me from sleep with thoughts of our calves. Last week I saw one at midday work slowly through my neighbor's pasture, stalking and pouncing after mice.

But there is something on our farm beside which these encounters and observations pale. It hinges on a relationship between human and animal more profound than that of a skilled rider and his mount. The songs of humpback whales are justifiably celebrated, but here we have a music far more haunting, a music which rings out through the valley, more beautiful than the peels of the Maria Glorioso or a Bach partita, more moving than any aria, a harmony which can only be termed sublime.



  1. Hahaha AMAZING. Very much enjoyed this post.

  2. I dare say you forget what music sounds like ;-)