Monday, February 05, 2007

goose going ons

What eats a goose?

I mean what goes out at one o'clock in the morning and tries to capture, kill and eat a goose?

One AM was just a few moments ago and suddenly there was a ruckus out on the other side of the stone wall in front of our house.

I was at the computer just beginning an e-mail discussion of current events I have several nights a week with my brother who lives in Korea.

We usually start by exchanging articles we’ve read over the past 24 hours, along with comments.

I was reading one he’d sent me on the Libby trial when the uproar started. It must have been going on for several minutes before I stopped reading long enough to be aware of what was happening outside.

The geese had been screaming and now, I could hear them scattered. Some of them calling out from the woods down below the house. There were other cries coming from farther out. On the other side of the field in front of the house.

There were even some goose calls coming from around behind the house.

I sat at my desk listening, the Libby article forgotten, for a moment longer as the cries slowly died out leaving only one goose making a plaintive call from somewhere out in the dark coldness.

Every night since I took down the fence that kept them up on the asparagus bed they have spent the days roaming the frozen or (if not quite frozen) muddy farm looking for something green to eat.

I’ve been putting out a bucket of grain for them but this has gone mostly to the crows as the geese prefer greens, and spend their days going over the various fields looking for that last frost hardy green out there.

Over the past several weeks the geese have eaten just about all of the remaining sorrel.

And while they ignored it when their was still something else to choose from, now they have finished off the last of the arugula still growing in the upper field.

But the geese’s eating habits aren’t what I sat out to tell you about, we were talking about what out there dared attack a gang (I know, the official word for a gang of geese is a gaggle) of geese right outside my lighted window?

And also, where was Andorra our goose protector of a dog, when all this was happening?

I went running out the front door with my heavy coat in one hand (at 1 am the temperature had already dropped to 16 degrees), and in my other hand that super bright 10 million or so candle power lantern I had just bought.

And instead of me flying through the air under a plastic kite, think of eight geese all running as fast as they can in different directions, flapping their wings and then suddenly, airborne.

Not, unlike unguided missiles heading in different directions.

Off into the forest.

I stopped typing. Listened to the quacking screams, the flapping wings and ran for the door, grabbed my coat, boots and that new flashlight.

And as I ran out the door and flipped on the light switch it did light up the entire field.

Ten million candle power. Wow!

But I didn’t see the geese. Just the empty field with the cold wind blowing some dry straw.

And then one. A single goose coming out of the woods to the south, quacking (I know that’s what ducks do, what about geese? Is their call a quack? or something else?)

And then another that had landed in the front yard. It peered out around the stone wall. And a third over where the garlic is growing.

I waited out in the cold and wind flashing my alleged 10 million candle power flash light back and forth but after five minutes only half a dozen geese showed themselves. The other two are gone.

Here it is, now 2:30 in the morning. How time flies. I’ve been sharing e-mails and views of the world with my brother and during that time the geese have quieted down.

Back at 1 am. They had all scattered. Flown off in every which way.

But now they have reformed their gaggle and as I shine my light out the window (actually I had to go downstairs, put on my coat again and go out into the now 12 degree outside) to see what was going on.

Are they all there?

Let me count. 1 goose, 2 geese, 4 geese 5 geese, 6, 7, .. is there an eighth goose? What is large enough to goose handle a 15-20 bird? One that can flap its wing, poke with a mean beak and, for short distances, even in the dark, fly.

I stood there shivering for a moment longer but decided that it was too cold to stand there much longer worrying about a goose.

There wasn’t anything I could do anyway. And besides, either way, it was hunky-dory. If the wayward goose wasn’t gone, that was good. And if it was gone, well, there’d be one less goose to make a mess on the driveway.

I’d come out a winner either way.

And in the morning, when I took up this newsletter and gave it one more going over I had already gone out into the 7 degree morning and given the gaggle a look, along with a recount.

And from somewhere in the early morning cold the missing goose had appeared and rejoined its brothers and sisters.


Leigh Hauter


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