Poor Will’s Almanack for the Final Week of Middle Fall.
In the last week of October, I often go to watch the robins migrating along the river near my house.
The first time I saw their great flocks was on October 21, 1982. I had gone to the woods expecting to find the end of everything, all the leaves down, the flowers shriveled. Instead of desolation, I found a paradise of birds: I'd never seen the woods so alive, the robins chirping and fluttering around me.
On the same day in 1983, again I found a large flock of robins at the river bank, and then further up stream, the woods full of their calls.
The same thing happened in late October of 1984.
And my daybook of eight years later records the same thing: Clouds of robins migrating along the river, like all the times before.
And year after year that week, a vast flock passed through, fluttering, chattering, whinnying, moving south through the high trees along the river valley.
The recurring appearance of the robins in a single flyway, the repetition of the same phenomenon decade after decade, is a safe enclosure of sound, color, motion and memory for me that always offers retreat from less benign concerns, gives consolation in the middle of pain, gives reassurance that the clock of the world is still steady and robust, reassurance that I have not outlived all the bounty of nature and that it is not too late to save the earth or maybe even my soul.
Next week on Poor Will’s Almanack: notes for the first week of Late Fall. In the meantime, the robins are not gone yet. Listen for their peeps and whinnies as they make their way south. If you hear just one, then you are connected to them all.