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img_2732Stuck in between the wonderment of December and the madness of March, February is my least favorite month of the year!

Come February, I am traditionally posting photos of a winter-white landscape, complaining about frigid temperatures, and longing for the color green. I am apt to reread Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” or pull on my boots and trudge to the “way back” to see what havoc the resident herd of deer have bestowed upon our little acreage. I ceremoniously don my very old, very long, black wool coat with massive hood and scurry out to the mailbox to see what is inside. I keep the coat for just such times for it is as warm as it is voluminous – and it cushions my tush against any tumbles I may take while slipping and sliding here along the Cutoff.

This year has presented itself as a rather mild February; record-breaking, if fact be told. Hereabouts, we love to tout our weather records. We recognize weather-versaries, such as the renowned Valentine’s Day Blizzard, and mark in time the largest snowfall, the most sub-zero days, the most snowfall on sub-zero days, the windchill, the chilblains. (okay, I made the chilblains up).

 A February phenomenon.

We have had this year a string of record-breaking February temperatures. We have had temperatures well over 60 degrees (F) for several days in a row, surpassing temperatures   of 130 some years ago.

We find ourselves wandering about in light jackets – or no jackets at all. People are smiling, lawns are greening, trees are budding and folks are out-and-about picnicking, golfing, and otherwise enjoying the welcome sunshine and warmer air.

So it was that the Antler Man and I took a pleasant Saturday stroll around Lake Katherine. It was so crowded that we had to park the car in the parking lot of a nearby office complex. While parking was a challenge, walking around the lake was not, even with families and strollers, dog walkers and couples both young and not-so enjoying the gifts of nature unusual for a mid-February day.

As we walked about, we heard a flock of Sandhill Cranes, deep in the deep-blue sky, with their distinctive calls amid their great migration. A pair of swans preened in the Lake as a family of turtles sat upon logs sunning close to the shore. Further along the winding path, a single turtle positioned himself out on a fallen branch, balancing his protective shell as a gaggle of geese honked away as if in a traffic jam during rush hour.

So it is that this phenomenal February has risen in rank to one of my favorite months – at least so far this year. I say this knowing that many of you are experiencing much different weather, threatening and disastrous, in fact. Please know that my thoughts and my prayers are with you.

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Have you ever heard the soft flutter of the wings of geese?

I don’t mean the loud clatter that occurs when they honk and beep and jockey about for first position in their signature V. I mean the softest of sounds, like a breeze brushing your check on a warm day; when you sense before you see?

As I was taking this picture of Lake Katherine, I heard an almost imperceptible sound as the camera was adjusting its eye. Just then two Canadian geese flew but a few yards above my head. They made not a sound. No warning. Just the whisper of air between their feathers.

Back home, downloading (or is it uploading?) the sixty of so photos of a short walk around a lake, I zoomed in closer on the one above. I was trying to capture the reflections of the shoreline on the water. I discovered that I had inadvertently captured the pair of geese who brushed past me. There, in the photo, are not only the geese, but their reflections. If you click onto the picture above and pan to the right you can see them.

I remembered a poem by Mary Oliver, Wild Geese, and went about trying to find in online, which I did, with the bonus of her actually reading it. The poem didn’t quite fit the picture, however, so, I kept the photo in abeyance, letting it sit and steep like a cup of tea.

When you let something sit brewing, you often get just what you were waiting for. That happened this morning. I have bookmarked a nice little site with the imprint of Garrison Keillor, that all American master of words. I clicked on The Almanac this morning, and there appeared a poem I didn’t know existed,. It fluttered about me like the wings of the geese from a week ago, and it gave me the words to hang upon the swans that I saw yesterday.

Water Picture, by May Swenson

In the pond in the park
all things are doubled:
Long buildings hang and
wriggle gently. Chimneys
are bent legs bouncing
on clouds below. A flag
wags like a fishhook
down there in the sky.

The arched stone bridge
is an eye, with underlid
in the water. In its lens
dip crinkled heads with hats
that don’t fall off. Dogs go by,
barking on their backs.
A baby, taken to feed the
ducks, dangles upside-down,
a pink balloon for a buoy.

Treetops deploy a haze of
cherry bloom for roots,
where birds coast belly-up
in the glass bowl of a hill;
from its bottom a bunch
of peanut-munching children
is suspended by their
sneakers, waveringly.

A swan, with twin necks
forming the figure 3,
steers between two dimpled
towers doubled. Fondly
hissing, she kisses herself,
and all the scene is troubled:
water-windows splinter,
tree-limbs tangle, the bridge
folds like a fan.

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