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Honking and barking — music of the season

September 28, 2012
By Karen Wils , Daily Press

ESCANABA - It's the music of the season.

The honking geese and baying hounds signal the epitome of autumn.

Large flocks of greater Canada geese go barking across the golden sky. Like sentinels of the changing seasons, they sing out "celebrate the harvest; celebrate the summer that was!"

Article Photos

Karen Wils photos

After sniffing for bunnies all day, it’s time to teather up and go home.

While the geese pepper the sky on their southward journey, the U.P. woodlands are serenaded by the sound of hunting hounds. Beagle tails wag beneath the bronze colored ferns and the amber arms of the tamarack trees.

The happy little hounds work together to bring the big fluffy-footed snowshoe hare around in a circle.

Each dog's distinctive voice seems to say "I want to be wild, I want to be free, I want to chase a bunny in autumn's awesome U.P.!"

Whether we were piling firewood, putting up storm windows or running the dogs, the sound of geese flying over was always a comforting thing.

Fall meant it was time to focus on the home and hearth.

I also had the pleasure of growing up with beagles in the family. In my younger days, my family hunted rabbits (most of the time hares) for meat. But in recent years, it's the joy of listening to the dogs and watching them work that brings us back to our favorite swamps and woodlands.

Some hound's men and women pursue bear, fox, or raccoons with their dogs. Like the classic book we all had to read in ninth grade, "Where the Red Fern Grows," the best thing about dogs is that they get you out into the great outdoors.

The sound of beagles off in a distant swale and the honking of geese way off on the horizon can sound quite a bit alike.

Geese work as a team as they migrate. They honk to keep their flock together and organized. They take turns being the lead goose that gets to buck the strongest winds.

Beagles work as a pack to gently push the shy rabbits out of their tickets and get them to move in large circles. Each dog gives tongue and wags its tail and listens for the other dogs in its pack.

Do you ever wonder if the hounds hear the big packs of feathered sky barkers?

Did you think that the southern-bound geese ever pause and listen to the honking of hounds on the ground?

My daughter once told me that it sounds like the geese are chasing cloud rabbits up in the sky.

Nothing is as awesome as the clouds of autumn. Grey ones, white ones, fluffy ones and wild ones, clouds come and go quickly at this time of the year.

Snowshoe hares fade to white, cottontails of brown; they come and go quickly at this time of year, too.

The puffy cloud bunnies will lead the geese to their wintering grounds and back again in the spring. The hares will lead the hounds through the golden tamaracks and cool, green cedars. Then as the sun sets, back on leashes they will trot back home.

The cycle is complete. The songs are sung and it's time to rest. The beagle snores by the woodstove and the goose dozes in the distant warmer waters.


Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.



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