Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Grief in the Warming of the Year

A goose was hit by a car in front of the building today at work. They are slow creatures, and as stubborn as crabgrass. They go where they want and move at their own pace, which isn't always a terrible thing (unless, of course, it pits you against the wheels of a car and its impatient driver). Geese, like most things, require a special understanding. They adhere to a time schedule that is far greater and vastly different from our own. A honking horn, a green light, a break in the traffic mean nothing to them. Right now what matters most to a goose is finding a mate––which they hold on to for life––and settling down in a nice quiet, protected spot to tend to their eggs (which is an entirely human thing to do). I have watched them gather in the fields surrounding our building, have seen them conversing and huddling together, picking out the perfect partner and breaking off into tight little pairs. They move away from the flock and find a place to call their own, all but hanging do-not-disturb signs from their necks.

It is not hard to miss a goose (although quite often extraordinarily difficult to dodge the treats they leave behind, smeared across the sidewalk or embedded in the grass). They naturally avoid us and will only hiss and pose and posture when they fear for the safety of a nest or a mate. There is no reason a car could not navigate around an earthbound goose.

It's been on my mind a great deal today. Animal Control was called to tend to the injured creature, whose wing had been crushed so badly they fear it will not survive. As they took it away its mate marched back and forth across the sidewalk, squawking anxiously as a crowd, no doubt, gathered to witness the event.

After playing with Kona and Melissa at The Glen this evening Duncan and I walked across the street and down to the lake where the ducks and geese are pairing off in the reeds while the gulls set up house in the lamp boxes above. I watched them, the geese I have so reviled all winter, and I saw them as delicate and vulnerable, as things that seek each other out and tend to one another, who dote and primp and preen and look after. They are at their best when they are coupled up, amazing to the eyes and this Spring heart of mine. I don't know if animals love in the same sense that humans do (I'm sure science would insist they do not) but it was hard not to believe they could love. And why not? They don't mate for life just because they find a nice piece of tail and decide to stick with it. These creatures care for one another; you can see it when you watch them, really watch them. And while Duncan sat next to me I thought of that goose out in front of the building this afternoon, the one I passed as I left the parking lot. It was alone, still pacing, still calling after its missing mate. Its tiny head swiveled back and forth on that long stalk of a neck and its black ball bearing eyes were wide. It was searching for the mate it lost today, the mate it will most likely never see again. No one will come calling to offer condolences or offer an explanation, tell it that its union has been severed and that it must now spend this season, this warming, greening, life-erupting season solo.

How lucky we are to have loved ones in our lives, be they dogs or cats, partners, friends we don't see nearly as often as we'd like. Every moment we share with another, no matter how brief, is a gift from the universe and should be treasured as precious and fleeting, unique and immaculate.


Lori said...

Dr. Vet-Friend Two (our avian vet) sees geese, ducks, whatever, for a local wildlife rehab center. Also, Dr. Vet-Friend One has some domestic geese... one of which is a frequent visitor to our clinic. He and his mate are there now, and will be till it's warm. He is a kamikaze goose, who insists on attacking her horses... not very bright of him. He lost a wing last year, and is there now because the horse stomped his flat goosey foot and broke his femur! He also likes to attack her chickens, but at least he's less likely to get stomped when he does that!
Sorry to hear about the goose... I live in eternal fear that I will hit an animal, or see one hit.

NodakJack said...

Better to see a goose than BE goosed.