When the Geese Fly South and the Work Begins Anew
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
In late August at Goose Rocks Beach in Maine as we were sitting and chatting with friends one afternoon, Rosemary was first to notice a flock of geese flying south. They were high and far out over the ocean, flying left to right like the arrow in the Fed X logo. They confirmed what we already knew from the shorter days and cooler temperatures: summer was drawing to a close. The geese were just more businesslike about it than we were.
The flock Roe noticed was followed by another and another, as regularly as if spaced by Air Traffic Control. Each had as many as 40 birds, in classic V formation, each drafting off the wing of the one in front, and flapping wings in sync to catch the full benefit of the updraft. They take turns flying in the lead. Drafting in this manner saves between 20-30% of their energy. They go farther as a group than any ever could on their own. Our favorite African proverb (“If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together”) made literal by the aerodynamics of geese.
Much is still unknown about how geese navigate and communicate, but little needs to be repeated twice. Everyone stays in line. The trip is about survival. What drives their long journey is the same as what drives ours at Share Our Strength: the imperative of sustenance, feeding, food. The geese demonstrate an efficiency of flight, certainty of direction, and unity of purpose worth striving for as we return from the Labor Day break.
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