Tuesday, December 18, 2018

North Pole

Because I live in the bitter north of my rather large country, in Minnesota, when I see geese, or any migratory birds in the Winter I expect them to be flying south. It's just one of those childhood lessons that stuck with me: Birds fly south for the Winter. Winter is in a few days. Ergo all the birds should be flying south.

But south of what?

They're not all going to the South Pole. All the birds in the world are not going to fit on a single point on earth that technically has no width or length. They're just going south generally. There is a lot of south. In fact the further north you go the more south there is. The more south you go the more your options become curtailed.

Today I was walking along the Mississippi River and I saw geese. They were flying North. Up the river they went with me wondering after them. Then, just past the train tracks they took a sharp right turn to leave the river and head East.

Maybe we were the south and they'd already arrived, and now, their schedules freed up, they were just screwing around.

Because I live in the snowy north it is a bit bracing to remember that I live halfway between the North Pole and the Equator, right on the 45th parallel. This is a perfectly acceptable place for a bird to have flown south enough. When I was walking, looking at the geese as I was, I was actually closer to the Equator than I was to the North Pole. Though by the time I got to work I was closer to the North Pole.

Where it smells like peppermint and pipe smoke. And where the only things left that fly in Winter are reindeer.

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