Early April, 2007. Driving back from Winnipeg after my mother’s death. I stopped the car north of Regina on a wide expanse of big sky prairie. Above me were mobile skeins of myriad bird flocks flying north for yet another spring and summer in northern Canada. Many of these were made up of geese and sandhill cranes. The air was vibrantly alive with their various distinctive, multitudinous cries.
There were no other cars around, just mine, parked by the roadside where I stood leaning against the Toyota, looking up everywhere around me, savouring for a long, long time. There were easily thousands, maybe even tens of thousands travelling by at that exact moment on that stretch of prairie that gloriously sunny, spring-warm afternoon.
This was probably the most privileged, significant episode I’ve ever had with respect to birds or animals. “Awesome” is too small a word to convey the joyful rush and full-some consciousness I had in that pure, blissful, unexpected moment of being after the steady haze which follows the death of someone important and close. I was left feeling spiritually reinvigorated and profoundly refreshed, ready to resume my long drive home to Edmonton and whatever would happen next in my life.