Winter

I look out of the window in the morning and see the pond waters are rippling, glistening in the sunlight. It looks like a warm summer day, but I am not deceived. I know that if I step out in the garden, I will be greeted by a blast of cold wind from the empty stretches beyond. The same cold wind that, even now, is shaking the branches of the crab-apple tree, until the red berries fall to the ground, looking like really large rubies set in the emerald grass.

Yes, it’s almost winter now. Soon the pond in the backyard will freeze over, becoming one solid mass of ice. The ripples will remain, frozen in place till spring thaws the water to a greenish white. The neighbor’s children will carve out the ice to create a backyard skating rink and play in it all winter. Their pink parkas will stand out against the white ice, and their shrill, happy voices will echo in the cold wind.

The last flock of geese left today. They will no longer swim in the pond in noisy groups. The ducks still remain, quietly swimming in the cold mornings, ducklings trailing in long lines behind. I can see them clearly with my binoculars – the plain brown ducks, and the beautiful Mallard ducks with their peacock-blue necks. The ducks glide over the waters silently, leaving behind them a wispy wake which disappears instantaneously. It is as if the ducks would like to somehow blend in with the pond waters, and draw attention away from themselves.

I know the ducks will always be there in my backyard. Even when they are not swimming, I know they are resting, hidden in the long reeds bordering the pond. I love the ducks, just as I love the orange orb of the rising run, the wispy white clouds streaming across the blue sky, and the emerald green of the grass in my lawn. These are beautiful things, but they will be around every day, and I do not pay too much attention to them.

The geese fly in every now and then, in noisy groups, fluttering their wings and splashing about. They honk, they cackle and hold arguments in the water. They dance, swooping and arching their long necks together. The geese take over the pond, spreading themselves around and pushing the ducks into the far corner. They walk all over my lawn and grace it with their poop. When the geese fly in, the quiet waters of the pond are suddenly transformed into a noisy stag party. The ducks are wallflowers, though they are very beautiful wallflowers. The geese are plain, but they are the life of the party. As quickly as they come, the geese take off again, headed, no doubt, to the next party of the day.

All summer, I open my windows when the geese arrive, and listen to the raucous sound of their honking. I wait for their first arrival in the spring, and through the summer and fall, I celebrate each time they touch down on the pond. I photograph them incessantly, as if they were beautiful white swans, instead of plain brown geese.

The last flock of geese left today. They have flown on to warmer climes, where they can continue their raucous parties. The loyal ducks will wait, till the waters get too cold, and then they too will leave.

But I shall miss the geese.

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