Floral notes: Oh, Canada

Community Columnist

As the garden year draws to its close, a melancholy sound turns my head skyward.

The Canada geese are heading to their wintering grounds, now perhaps only as far as Pennsylvania.

Thrilling flocks of hundreds in their “V” formation; I wish them a safe journey as they call constantly to each other, for I love those elegant birds.

Some of them may have been our annual visitors who raised their families on my Emerald Pond, which is close to the house. Those who have ponds or live on any waterway know, “If you build it, they will come.”

Yes, they make a mess with poo and feathers, but if people emulated their other traits, society would benefit.

In April, a hotly-contested battle for nesting ponds is fought with honking, chasing and biting. The male protects his mate from any interlopers until she is safely on the nest. The early start to their noise makes sure you won’t need to set an alarm for a while.

When, in 30 days, the entire family reappears with Mom leading the goslings and Dad bringing up the rear, things settle down. In fact, if in the first three days a footloose goose pair wanted to foist their family off on another, no one seems to notice. They can then have a carefree summer. (Okay, not that nice a trait; they’re maybe inexperienced.)

My geese are most definitely the same each year, plus the next generation, with no more than three families in all. They tolerate each other, but there is a pecking order at feeding time. I probably shouldn’t, but every day each group gets a pile of cracked corn.

The males, who are always on watch duty, will hunt me down when I come outside. With a hiss and shake of his head he asks, “Are you forgetting something?” They’re like dogs who greet me when my car rolls up the driveway. I’m afraid there is a short blond woman down south who has geese chasing her and she doesn’t know why.

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