The geese are in full voice at Finley Wildlife Refuge. As graceful necklaces of birds stack up overhead apparently wating for clearance to land, the choir on the edges of the reservoir perform the Hallelujah Chorus. Their songs make my heart sing. And for comic relief, every now and then some duck cracks a joke and all his duck buddies join in with their coarse wack-wach-wack laughter.
Each autumn we make a pilgrimage to hear their wild songs. A 20 minute drive and we’re there. We usually go before October 31st, which is when the nesting areas and the dam path above the reservoir are closed for the season. But now that there is a boardwalk across the ash swale, you can get fairly close to the reservoir any time of year, and there are several trails open in the oak savannahs up the hills also. Down in the swale, the world seems to be almost entirely covered in drippy lichens and moss, primarily a soft grey green but occasionally an eye-popping chartreuse.
Every visit reveals new wonders: this time, it was swans (or maybe white geese?) visible through the telescope from the gazebo, and lovely white moths who seemed to have collapsed in the damp weather all along the boardwalk. It was too wet and windy to want to sketch on site, so we hiked around with our hands in our pockets and our hats pulled over our ears, and I took a few photos. I came home and worked from the photos in the warmth of my “studio” (aka dining room), cat in lap, wine glass at the ready (always being on the alert not to dip my brushes in the wine), candle flickering just for the cinnamon-roll scent. November can be quite cozy – the trick is to get out and get a little chilly exercise first.