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An amazing visit

Musings from the Hill

Steady readers know I welcome the returning geese each spring, waiting – and documenting – how many hatch and when. Dates can vary from April 22 to as late as May 24

This spring seemed late but then the weather wasn’t cooperating with anyone.

One family of seven appeared a bit later than the others and, for reasons unknown, decided to hang around. I may feed them cracked corn when the kids are little but that stops quite quickly. First, I run out of corn, and secondly, about then they disappear for weeks (I always called it “going camping”). I may see them down the road at a neighbor’s or nowhere I’ve yet to discover. When they do return, they’re large enough and happy enough to be independent. I admire and number their presence and let it go at that.

This year it’s been different – and unusual. The seven – by now I call them “my seven” – come quite often earning a mark in my daily bird chart and that’s that. Just a few days ago (very early July) I happened to be in the back bathroom when I looked out the door at an amazing parade of geese. Guessing they came through my neighbor’s yard (was she even aware?) they pushed through bushes and suddenly here they were. Twenty-one of them. And all large enough by now to have acquired most of their chin strap markings.

All that’s required of me is observation. They do their own thing and I have my activities. Let’s just say I admire them and let them go their own way. With a total of 28, I probably would be very, very careful when I navigate the yard. “Fertilizer on the hoof”, as it were, but they also do one heck of a good job of trimming my weeds. I reckon it’s mutually beneficial. (Were children or picnickers to visit, my thoughts and plans would rapidly change.)

I see them coming up to – and around the house – (but have no reason to believe they’re the ones who have nibbled so many of the hosta leaves; blaming a woodchuck for that though who know whether I’m right or wrong. Turns out it’s my lovely deer, another first). They can’t eat anything that will bother me; it’s so darned dry not very much that I want is even growing.

I am not quite a crazy “farmer” though never stop expressing gratitude for living in the country. I am content with my wildness – to a certain degree.

I do continue to weed – and enjoy the efforts, being out as well as the results (when it isn’t 100 degrees). Tried the other day (when it was really too close to that magic mark to be reasonable), sitting on the retaining wall and digging, honestly surprised how many of the big plants pulled up easily.

I was happy doing what I’m doing. Then I hear mumblings, quite a number of mumblings all round – well, all 180 degrees around me. What?

Here are the geese! They’ve walked right up to me, conversing quite loudly and continuing their walking, around and around, obviously having a great deal to say about the situation, before finally moving off. These are wild animals, I tell myself. Why me?

But what a blessing it was! Others out there – perhaps you, as well – have had remarkable experiences with wild beings. This was positively a first for me.

Even when they had their youngsters, they would run off as I walked down the hill with my bucket of cracked corn. So why now?

Amazed, I continued to weed and enjoy my companions. Molly eventually awoke and came out causing the geese to run off sounding quite outraged (as one might anticipate from 28 almost adult geese).

Best, while I still sat and worked, they returned to the lake and started what could be a very premature “flying lesson.”

By that I mean they get in the water, make a heck of a lot of noise and flap their wings hard. While some may become a wee bit airborne, most quickly give up. I remember one summer when all were pretty well convinced they could fly. Taking off near the house, they’d head to the south. After a few hairy attempts, most did quite well. (Kids growing up.) But it seems there was always one who chickened out just before reaching the treetops. That one would settle back into the water, patiently (one presumes) waiting for his siblings to return.

I don’t pretend to know what goes through a goose’s mind (that’s perfectly all right) but shall treasure this one very special morning.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. “Her Reason for Being” was published in 2008 with “Love in Three Acts” following in 2014. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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