Musings of a roaming nature nerd

Ramblings of a migratory rambler

Perhaps the single most extraordinary feat of any animal is that of migration. Every season, millions of souls follow the path of ones who came before, knowing that the best chance for survival is to move. The Pronghorn of the intermountain west traverse ever shrinking habitat corridors, bottle necking through Wyoming’s Green River and spilling out to the sagebrush flats beyond. Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes form airborne patterns from horizon to horizon during their migration across the great plains. Birds of prey catch thermals off of ridge lines and make their way along aerial highways, following the same routes year after year, decade after decade. These animals move in their effort to survive, escaping inhospitable weather or seeking food or water sources.

And once, humans felt the migratory need too. We spent a good 100,000 years on the move before settling into the comforts of agriculture and a stationary life. As a result of being more stationary we have the chance to connect with landscapes more intimately, to create communities and culture, and those factors have come to define us and our ideal image of “home.” But home in the way we think of it, remains a recent concept. We evolved as nomads.

Jason's photo of migrating Snow Geese in Nebraska


With all the comforts we have available now, what drives that prehistoric part in many of us to still want to be on the move? Few people in today’s world migrate seasonally anymore, yet when they do survival and sustenance often propel that movement. I recently crossed our amazing, beautiful country for the 11th time and I’ve thought a lot about what has driven me to migrate. Sometimes I journeyed for pure fun, but other trips led toward the hope of a new life, a better education, a new job; in short a way to sustain myself in the modern world.

My east-west migratory paths have been in cars, on conveniently paved, predetermined thoroughfares. Eating and sleeping are never issues and aside from the occasional automotive breakdown, one keeps moving with mind numbing ease. A far cry from the strength needed for ancient human migration or any other animal migration across vast expanses of beauty and peril. But modern migration has not just provided me with a way to sustain myself; it has helped me connect to the seasons and the rhythms of nature in ways I never would have by staying in one place. My recent journeys have coincided with the migration of songbirds. Migrating with the migrators- job to job, spring to fall to spring! As a result I have come to understand bird migration on a deeper level. Why and how they move and what it takes to make the journey. Rather than idly watching the seasons pass, I move with the seasons and become a small part of the change itself.

Within me the desire to explore is very strong; to see the world and change with its changes. But when all is said and done there is no right or wrong. We evolved to move, but we’ve discovered the luxury and pleasure of staying put, connecting to one place. We don’t have to chose mobility over stability or vice versa, we just need to learn how to function within the duality. Sometimes we’re contented with our stable lives. Sometimes we get a little bored and need a brief escape from routine. And sometimes our internal clock chimes, telling us it’s time to go, time to move, time to follow the figurative herd and see what opportunity lies ahead. When we accept the duality within us, life transforms.


3 Responses

  1. Dad

    This sounds like a great cigar and whiskey conversation! :-) Enjoyed reading and reflecting.

    May 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

  2. Anne, I adore this article. Well stated and beautifully written my friend.

    April 22, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    • annie

      I know you get this one intuitively, my gypsy friend! Thanks for reading and being awesome :)

      April 25, 2012 at 5:19 pm