Folded Field Notes: MIGRATION

Folded Field Notes is an interactive column that explores a new ecological topic each fortnight – part writing challenge, part citizen science project – led by alternating guides with assistance from editor & ecologist JS Graustein. Will you join us?

TODAY’S TOPIC : Migration
Migration is the movement of populations from one place to another. Migration can happen on a timescale of hours (bacteria) to millennia (plants), and is one agent of evolutionary change. The term can be applied to many things, including the movement of information from one storehouse to another, or even the movement of atoms within a molecular structure.

portrait of Barbara FlahertyBarbara Flaherty is an artist and poet who lives on the north shore of Boston with two feline critics, Sylvester and Tashi. She works in the historic Manchester by the Sea Public Library. Barbara previously served as Folded’s acquisitions editor and has sponsored public readings for Folded authors.

Today: fleeting time, fleeting season along the water’s edge as summer moves over autumn’s threshold. Subtle beginnings of change and movement – one monarch butterfly lingering on a sea rose, then two and now more: travelers en route to somewhere else – forerunners. This morning I heard less chatter from the birds, the missing songs a sign of their migration.



Leaves hurry to catch up
with summer moving on
past arrivals and farewells.
Their migration more frantic perhaps,
having waited out the storm, thinking
it would pass, not take its toll
on memory.

Leaves hurry now, catching up
with light that fades too early
into the mirror of the sea,
having murmured their adieu
to branches letting go.

©2018 by Barbara Flaherty

Your turn! In the comments section below, please let us know if you’ve observed any kind of migration recently – including general location and time of day. We’ll leave the comments open for the next two weeks in case you need a chance to go on a field trip first😊 And if your encounter inspires you to write a response (short poem, flash fiction, or mini essay), please come back and share that as well. On 8 October 2018 we’ll post a community poem based on all your observations. We’ll also select one of the response pieces to publish in our Written Word Wednesday column (revisions may be requested).

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5 Comments on “Folded Field Notes: MIGRATION

    We live textured lives. Full bodied, we make our way. We embrace while songs are sung. We sit and eat, nourished by the scents and tastes of all that is good. We see and count with thanksgiving, the days of our lives. And yet, there is a frailty that comes through all the wandering and wondering. A boldness turns to brittleness and we long for rest.

    out of reach
    a formation of geese
    heading south

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Every morning, in tens of thousands, they leave their homes to cross the firth. Like many-coloured beetles of varying size, they crawl their accustomed path; they leave the ground and flow like smoke, suspended over air and water towards their destination. The murmur of their passing carries for miles around.

    Wearily every evening, the beetling throng of thirty thousand face their northward journey. Queuing and waiting, filing and halting, commuters gradually spill out of the city. Two bridges fill with traffic, while another echoes the rattling roar of ever-frequenting trains.

    A hundred and thirty years ago, you could cross the Forth only by ferryboat… and usually didn’t. One by one, more than half a century apart, came the bridges to make lives easier… until now you may spend two hours of every day slowly, crowdedly, migrating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Autumnal Shift
    Flock of blackbirds moving over the house, silent as they almost always never are–heading south, one wing beat at a time. Leaving behind the September cries of the finches, (in French, no less–Vite! Vite! Vite!/Quick! Quick! Quick!); the urgency shouted down by jeers from the blue jays, the mockery of magpies, the crows, so seldom able to approach in silence: “Hah!” they shout. “We’ll stay!”
    on the lake island
    the trees bare of white egrets
    soon, their leaves bare, too
    Over my shoulder, the sudden arrival of a small flock of bush tits, making their presence known only by the bell-like cheep and the taffeta rustle of their number, scavenging the mock-orange for seeds and delicate bits of leaf ends. Hello and goodbye.


  4. Pingback: Autumnal Shift – Folded Word

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