At dusk, they congregate in the field across the river close enough to the shore to make a quick get-away if a fox comes around. At dawn, they make their way back to the water and swim in long, straight lines, one parent in front and the other taking up the rear. In mid-July, the goslings are nearly as large as their parents. It has been a good summer to raise goose children on the Bowstring river. The kids are strong swimmers with large, healthy bodies and long necks. Most of the day, the families parade back and forth in front of the dock, pecking at vegetation beneath the surface.
A decade ago, we lived in an old house that fronted a small lake right in the center of a town on the prairie. In the summer, we’d walk around the lake and see families of geese there, too. Most of the geese who bred there had lousy attitudes. They honked and squawked and chased small children. If a dog on a leash got too close, they’d lose their minds. By late summer, every blade of grass on the shore had been eaten and the ground was bare. Some of the geese appeared to have either broken or deformed wings. They fought with each other and left their droppings in yards. By autumn, we were glad to see them leave with all their relations.
I was thinking about those geese this morning while I picked wild blueberries on a ridge where there was just enough breeze to keep the deer flies away. It’s a good year for berries, thanks to all the heat and rain we’ve had. I love to pick. Mostly, I like the solitude and repetitive nature of picking. Walk, stoop, gather. Walk some more, stoop again, gather some more. I like the sounds the birds make when they don’t know a human is around and the smell of ripe blueberries in an ice cream pail. I don’t think I’d enjoy picking blueberries at a farm the way some people do. Too easy. Too many people walking where they shouldn’t crushing perfectly good berries would make me crabby. Give me a Sunday morning on a ridge alone with my thoughts and the deer flies any day.
There are blueberries, and then, there are blueberries.
There are geese, and then, there are geese, too.