The sky was gray, with a low ceiling, cold and threatening rain as I drove the stretch from East Bernard to Eagle Lake that morning. The voice of Eastern philosopher Alan Watt floated through the SUV speakers out of the 1960s, but I turned it off abruptly at the sound of honking.
Not car horns, geese. So many that at first my brain could not comprehend the signals my eyes were sending it. They were in one of those huge flowing Vees you see, only when you see them around here they are usually so high in the sky that their honking seems closer than their tiny bodies up in the clouds. These were close to the ground, not in one wave but dozens, like barnstormers buzzing the crowd.
The V waves undulated wildly and in a kind of unison, like the magnetic light shows of the Arctic. Wave after wave broke above the car, and as I looked into the sky at my left, there were so many Vees to come that I couldn’t count them. The geese were wild and high-spirited and majestic.
All of them were headed North; the wrong direction. Were they crazy?
After a few hundred yards I had to either pull over to watch or get my head back on the road, and it was cold and I was of course in a hurry and chose the latter, moving West on U.S. 90A almost to Eagle Lake, whose main streets are adorned with the tag line “The Goose Hunting Capital of the World.” Why not Goose Lake, then? Because in 1821 an exploratory party for Stephen F. Austin shot a bald eagle on the shores of the lake. At least you can eat a goose, I thought.
Not the wild sky warriors I’d just passed under, though, confusing the enemy by flying the wrong way into a winter storm and then gaining altitude, climbing a mile high and banking hard toward Mexico.