Coming home with the kids the other day, I noticed a lone Canada goose in a neighbor’s yard. It’s not unusual to see Canada geese in our neighborhood. There are non-migratory flocks of them that reside here. In the spring, they nest down by the ponds; and we watch as their fuzzy brown and yellow offspring emerge. In the summer, they seem to idle away their time by pooping all over the t-ball and soccer fields. In the fall, they float lazily on the pond water before it freezes. And then, in the winter, they walk the streets looking for grass springing up from beneath the snow. They are ubiquitous.
But, a lone Canada goose is a rare sight. Geese are very social creatures and are almost always in the company of other geese. I first noted the goose up the street a few houses away. Yesterday, I saw it wandering in the neighbor’s yard, finding grass across the street on the sunny side. This morning, I was sitting in bed reading (oh, okay…I was playing Angry Birds…ironic, no?) and I watched it fly onto the open space behind our house, walk out a bit, and then curl up to nap.
I’m obnoxiously curious by nature, so my brain has been troubled for days with questions about what this goose is doing on its own. I know it’s wrong to anthropomorphize, but it looks so depressed. I told hubby this morning that I thought it needed a hug. Its lone wanderings have been vexing me, so today I finally broke down and did some research as to why a Canada goose would be off on its own like this. Here’s what I found on a site called http://www.canadageese.org in response to a question someone else posed about a lone goose:
“There are three common explanations for your observation. The first possibility only applies in the spring during nesting season. Many people report seeing a lone goose hanging around a particular area. Typically the bird is a gander (the male) standing guard with a well-concealed mate on a nest nearby — he only appears to be alone. The second possible explanation is that the goose you observed has lost his or her mate. Geese are known to mourn by staying by themselves for a while. Possible explanation 3: He was injured shortly before arriving on the scene and his internal injuries brought him down. If this goose appears to be healthy (and appears to be finding food and eating), then there is nothing to worry about and no need to do anything.”
Our goose appears to be healthy. It is eating. It can fly. It’s not nesting season and, even if it was, our house is nowhere near the ponds where these birds usually nest. All this leads me to the conclusion that our lone bird isn’t just alone but is indeed lonely.
A few years ago, I was about to merge onto the highway when I saw a car ahead of me hit a Canada goose. It was ugly. I will never forget watching the other birds react as the dying bird flailed about. As I slowed to drive around the geese, I heard excessive honking and saw one bird standing close by the injured bird as it suffered. Later, I drove by again and saw one lone goose standing over the now dead bird. It stayed behind when the flock left to mourn its loss.
Normally, I find these birds a complete nuisance. They cross the street in droves, and I complain unendingly as I wait for them to meander out of my way. Knowing what I now know, however, I am looking at them in a slightly different light and I am starting to wonder if I should approach all things in my life with a bit more softness. Perhaps when I see something unusual I should take time to investigate rather than immediately making assumptions as I am wont to do. Maybe some of those really grumpy people I run into are dealing with things I don’t understand. Maybe, like that solitary goose, they are coping with a painful loss. I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to give people the same compassion I am giving to the goose who is right now resting in the snow across the street in our neighbor’s yard.