A walk to our marsh isn’t anything new for me, nor is the view. Yet I wander down there regularly. You’ve accompanied me on a few occasions (here and here), following the trail and sitting on the bench beside me. The same path takes me past the same trees, footsteps cushioned with decades of fir needles and crushed cones. Ferns and mosses, leathery salal and the occasional huckleberry shrub return every spring under the same dense evergreen canopy.
Marshes don’t change much. There are always grasses emerging from their watery roots, ducks and geese diving for fresh shoots, swallows swooping after mosquitoes and herons stalking lunchtime morsels. I have photos taken fifteen years ago that I can’t tell from others taken last week except for the seasonal colour variations.
But each time I go, it feels different, perhaps because I’m looking with a different focus. This week it’s on the Canada Goose who, after a three-year hiatus, has returned to occupy her old nest on top of the beaver lodge.
She wasn’t there in the early afternoon yesterday when I went to check up on her, and I feared she might have abandoned it again. But no, soon she and the gander swam back from the deeper end of the marsh and she clambered up to settle in.
There are two pair of geese populating our marsh and they each respect their separate territories, although I occasionally hear a commotion if one meanders too close to the other’s domain. I assume it’s the same two pair every year, since geese mate for life and are relatively long-lived.
Do you suppose they have any thoughts about the recurring, never changing cycle of their lives? Do they ever experience the hamster-on-a-wheel sensation, as people do – the here-we-go-again, tied-to-the-old-survival-routine kind of monotony? Or are they even conscious of the renewal of a season? Geese are very family oriented. They show affection for each other, welcome each other after an absence. They defend their mates and their young. I wonder if they have any other emotions in common with people. I’ll probably never know, but I like posing such questions.
I do something similar when I’m establishing new characters for my stories. I want to know what they think, how they’ll respond, what personality traits they’ll display as the plot unfolds. Will routine bore them or help keep them grounded?
What kind of questions do you ask as you begin assembling a fresh cast of characters? Has the arrival of spring inspired any enthusiasm for beginning something new? How do you feel about the repetition of the seasons?
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest,
and cold and heat, and summer and winter,
and day and night shall not cease.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
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