..excerpt from September Birds 2020
Excerpt from September 2020
It is a glorious mid September day, bright blue cloudless skies and a distinct chill in the air. There was a hard frost last night and today I wear a wool sweater. Many geese have gathered on the pond. Each of the past four days, we’ve counted 28. They came in three skeins and for the most part remain that way, only occasionally combining in groupings that are tentative and often ending with what appears to be an order from one alpha or another. Groups or gaggles, gather on the shore providing endless entertainment for Willy the cat, and myself. Willy waits patiently in the high grass until they come ashore and begin to settle. A mad race towards them and they all squawk and race back into the pond. He puffs up proudly and returns to his blind, watching and waiting for another turn. Often, I see him sitting on the edge of the wooden raft as it floats to rope’s end with geese hissing and paddling around him, curious about a fluffy black creature with a tail like a goose neck, floating just above them. If the breeze doesn’t push the raft back to shore, there will be a very wet cat. Eventually the cat or geese become bored with the game. The geese float away, talking in their soft whispery voices as they go. An hour or so later I am at the work table in the window of my studio when I see a male goose cautiously walking out of the pond grasses toward me. He watches, taking a careful step at a time. Finally he decides that the coast is clear and signals, with a swivel of the neck and a bob of his head, to follow. One after another, a line of geese walk out of the high grass and onto the damn to feed. He stands guard. This particular neck swivel and bob, is something I’ve seen Canada geese use for years, though generally within a family setting. I wonder if it is universal or if this goose was raised on this pond and this particular neck bob a version of local dialect. A few minutes later, I shuffle some papers. The geese startle and with another neck circle, they are gone.
. . .
By the end of the month, the number of geese landing on the pond has grown to more than a hundred. They fly in skeins of 30 or more, announcing their arrival to the equally loud honks of those already afloat. It feels joyous, this gathering of geese. Have they just now reunited after a summer apart? There is much excited chatter. I can’t believe it isn’t conversation. Are they planning a route, the next stop or sharing adventures? Sometimes, when they all call out at once, from one gigantic group on the pond, I think they are agreeing to something, a vote or rally cry, or when to take to the air once again. Hip Hip! As we begin our preparations for the cold months ahead, I think that they are not unhappy to move on to the next season, the next pond.