It’s become a ritual for me now. I can’t wait for the dawn.
I hurry to get the car warmed up, eager to get to Forest Beach right around sunrise.
Even in the dim light, there’s always something going on down by the shore when I arrive.
I scoot down in the sand with my camera to watch.
And then, in the distance, somewhere out in the marsh, I hear them stirring.
Someone out walking their dog along the beach has surely roused them from their beds.
Their conversation continues, the honking gets louder.
Then suddenly, UP over the dunes comes the first pair!
Honking excitedly to one another, they fly over me, past me, so close that I can hear the rush of the wind in their wings.
I watch them make their way up toward Red River beach and then finally, dip down, and out of sight.
But the conversation out in the marsh continues. The sound of honking gets louder once again.
Then all at once I see the rest of the flock, sometimes twenty in all, flying in tandem, up and over me, just like the others.
The sound of their collective voices calling, again and again, rises above all else in the chill, salty air.
It is a musical perfection I can’t even begin to describe.
The flock moves quickly toward Red River, the sounds of their voices fade away altogether.
But in my heart I am right there with them, flying high.
Raising my own voice as I, too, honk to greet the new day!