When does winter start? There is the date on the calendar marking the start of winter, but really, once all the leaves are off the trees, it is winter. By the time swans are waddling over the fields, it is winter. When the sun is low and shadows stretch as far as the eye can see, it is winter.
The seasons don’t follow the calendar. They come when they will, the go when they please. Wait for them to arrive and go when they are officially supposed to, and you’ll miss them at their best.
This year, the swans and snow geese have been remarkable. Every day swans go honking overhead, and ribbons of snow geese paint the sky. I was driving home at dusk after delivering tofu, and it was hard concentrating on the road because flocks of swans kept flying by, just above the tops of the trees, on their way to wherever they were going to bed.