Travel for humans, for the most part, is a lifestyle choice. We travel the earth to seek & experience, new destinations that pull on our hearts. But humans aren’t the only travelers on this planet. When it comes down to it, we are totally put to shame by those in the animal world where travel is mandatory. For many, the mysterious urge of migration calls some of the earth’s smallest inhabitants to take journeys unfathomable to our minds.
- Consider the Arctic Tern who flies from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. Monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles through several generations from regions throughout Canada to one small mountaintop in Mexico to spend the winter. Pacific salmon are born in mountain streams and swim down to the open ocean only to return years later. They travel the hundreds of miles to that very spot where they hatched, to reproduce, & subsequently die. The pull of migration affects tiny hummingbirds, whales, caribou, wildebeest & many other species too numerous to name.
As a trained naturalist, and as I ponder my own motivations for travel, I wonder what it must be like for one of these creatures when one day, they wake up and its time for them to leave? What do they experience when often they must depart the only place they have every known to embark on an unfathomable journey of such physical magnitude?
I wrote this poem thinking of a bird during its first migration & what it might be like….
A sliver of a moon
Shimmered off my left shoulder
As we pumped our wings
Through the darkness of the frigid night.
The urge unexplained
Tugged on my soul
& led me onward, North
Guided by stars
And the pull of the earth.
leaving the familiar behind
An unknown destiny awaiting.
I revel in the freedom of flight
Trusting the whispers from deep within
I follow the others to a foreign land
On a course mapped by generations before me.