Metaphor in Migration
Aldo Leopold writes: “When dandelions have set the mark of May on Wisconsin pastures, it is time to listen for the final proof of spring. Sit down on a tussock, cock your ears at the sky, dial out the bedlam of meadowlarks and redwings, and soon you may hear it: the flight-song of the upland plover, just now back from the Argentine.”
Here in the Wallowas, it’s the snowy plover and what enchanting, humorus birds they are. Indeed, they make a long journey, but as a migratory creature that also stopped over in the Wallowas, I have to say it’s a darn good place to land.
“Whoever invented the word ‘grace’ must have seen the wing-folding of a plover,” Leopold continues, and I have to agree. However, after what I thought was my first sighting of a plover might have actually been a killdeer. The “plover” I saw looked more like a ring-necked, which is definitely more of a shorebird. (Dear Pacific Ocean: Don’t worry, I understand you’re 8 hours away.) The snowies are here, but rare. Then again, the palmated plover is seen most places during spring migration, even this far inland.
It’s a lesson in assuredness; just as surely as I thought I knew what I saw, I’ve come to doubt it. Nature has always been my greatest teacher and the changing of seasons its constant knocking at my door. The metaphors couldn’t be any clearer: Here today, gone tomorrow (as is the nature of spring migration, as is the nature of my current writing life). Don’t judge a book by its cover (or a bird, for that matter, or a man).