This is the second spring that I’ve lived in this area. The spring before that we were apartment hunting, so even then I was driving these roads I now drive regularly. And it was that spring, two years ago, when I first noticed the Graylag Goose.
Actually, I don’t know for sure if it is a graylag or not. It definitely has graylag ancestry, but since there are dozens of different kinds of geese that claim graylag ancestry, and since I am not a goose aficionado, I’m not in a position to make any definitive identifications. For the sake of this story, we’re going to call her a Graylag goose.
Which leads to another problem. I don’t even know if it’s a “he” or a “she”. Birds being what they are, there’s no easy way to tell the difference between hims and hers unless the species has been kind enough to evolve a nice sexual dimorphism. As a rule, geese have not been so obliging. I have arbitrarily decided that this particular graylag is a her.
OK, so now we have the preliminaries out of the way. The area I live in is rich in revolutionary war history. Every community has its own old homestead from hundreds of years ago that has been renovated and turned into a little history museum. Most try to keep the place looking as it did in the 1700’s, including farming part of the fields with horses, and keeping a few milk cows and chickens around. One such place in my area includes in its inventory a flock of graylag geese that I will sometimes see grazing far too close to the busy rush-hour roadway for my comfort level. As of yet, I’ve never seen any of the feathered morons mashed on the roadway though, so I can only assume they’re smarter than they look.
One of the graylags apparently likes to walk on the wild side. Even two springs ago, I would sometimes spot this one a mile or so from the others, consorting with a small flock of Canada geese that hang out in the park system that adjoins the farm/museum. And in spring, when the other geese are pairing up and hanging out together like a bunch of high school kids after the prom, Graylag too found herself a Canada goose to have a crush on. The two of them would hang out away from the other geese, making googly eyes at each other and dreaming of whatever it is that goose couples dream of when they’re in love.
Last spring I again saw Graylag paired up with her Canadian lover. I was curious to see if these two would give in to hormones and consummate their love, but when the other goose couples showed up in May with their goslings, these two wandered about, playing aunt and uncle. They helped out with child-care with some of the other geese, but apparently never had any of the little fluff balls themselves.
Then last month I again saw Graylag hanging out with her wild love. At this point I had to admit that this was no teenage crush, but instead had all the earmarks of true goose love. I again wondered if anything would come of this, but when the pair disappeared a few weeks back I guessed that Graylag decided to return to the land of free lunches and goose pens.
This morning I saw Graylag and her wild-side lover after their long absence. They were several hundred feet from the road, but as I drove by I saw that they were shepherding at least four tiny peeplets across the field. It appears that this year they finally did the deed, and have settled down to raise a family.
Now, of course, I’m curious about the kids that are going to result from this union. Do they have any chance at a normal, goosey life? Don’t get me wrong … mixed marriages are fine. But the kids are going to have to somehow find their own identity, and it’s a jungle out there. Will the other goslings pick on them? Will they grow up and be able to find themselves mates who will love them and stick by them? Graylag was lucky that way, but I’m not sure every goose is as open minded as Graylag’s mate is.
Or are they instead going to find themselves trapped into the captive life that Graylag herself escaped? Will they fall back on the comfort and safety of a lonely cage to escape the tribulations of a life of freedom? I’m rooting for the little guys to find their way in the big world, but as yet they are only a day old, and the biggest hurdle in front of them is to escape the raccoons and dogs that prowl the area in search of easy snacks.
I have hope. Poking about on the web I found Confusing Domestic Geese. If those New York geese can do it, then these little guys have a chance too.
This entry marks the third anniversary of my diary here at DD. I was going to write something entirely different, a self-centered retrospective tale of where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. But I do that every other day I’m here. I think I’ll let this entry stand on its own.