Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Unmistakable Lure of Shakespeare in the Park

(Picture left: Binky [top] with Mom [front[)

I have spent hundreds of hours watching and observing them. I've written thousands of words about them and taken many dozens of photographs of them.

But, you know what?

I don't know a damn thing about Canada geese!

Early last night, I went to Turtle Pond to check on Binky, the gosling with Angel's Wings alone since his family left the pond last week.

I was able to spot a lone goose on the pond, through the trees and marshes almost as soon as my dogs and I got to Turtle Pond.

There he is! I thought as Tina, Chance and I quickly headed to the small pier that overlooks the pond to get a better look at Binky.

But, when we got to the pier, I was in for a shock!

There wasn't just one goose, there were several! And in the middle of the group was Binky!

Did a new flock arrive? I wondered.

But, as I looked closer at and counted all six of the "new" geese, I soon realized they were not in fact, new at all, but Binky's family!

Oh my God, they're back!! They've come back for their disabled baby!

I could not believe my eyes!

A small group of animal lovers were on the pier watching the turtles, ducks and geese and tossing a few tidbits to the menagerie.

Binky's family acted like they had never left. They swam lazily around the pond, grabbed a couple of treats and then moved on towards the east side of the pond.

The sun had just set and I imagined the goose family was heading towards the large rock situated at the east side of the pond where they always stayed at night.

Just like old times! I thought as I quickly scurried away with my dogs to head towards the large rock formation that bridges the water to the land side of the park.

Wow, I would have loved to have been here for the family reunion! I thought while on the way to the rocks. How wonderful must that have been for Binky to see his family once again?

When arriving to the patch of rocks at the east side of the pond, Marina and her three surviving ducklings were there, along with the other mama mallard and her four babies. But, the geese had not yet arrived. They were taking their sweet time sauntering across the pond.

A few people were lingering along the rock formation and at least one man was taking pictures of the duck families. Perhaps that explained the geese' caution in immediately coming to the rocks where they typically settle down to sleep?

After a while the people slowly left and I settled down on a step to wait for the geese who I knew would eventually show up.

But, Marina was less patient than I.

She suddenly gathered up her three mostly grown ducklings and headed into the water with seeming urgency and determination!

Hm, that was unusual, I thought. The duck families always stay on the rock at night. Were my dogs and I scaring Marina? We weren't that close to them and Tina and Chance were on their best behavior. I couldn't figure it out.

But, low and behold, less than five minutes later, suddenly the family of geese swam towards the rocks, followed closely behind by Marina and her three ducklings!

Once again, my brain couldn't seem to assimilate what my eyes were seeing!

Did Marina suddenly take to the water to summon the goose family that it was OK to return to the rocks? I didn't know, but it sure seemed that way!

Daddy goose and four of the grown goslings were the first to come out of the water and saunter up to the precipice of the rock formation, their favorite spot for sleeping at night.

Binky and his mother stayed at the lower set of rock, nibbling at some cracked corn left for the duck families.

Securing my dogs to a nearby wire fence, I approached Daddy and the four goslings with some bird and pumpkin seeds in my outstretched hand.

"Welcome back guys! Where the hell were you over the past week? Didn't you care what happened to Binky?"

But, of course the birds didn't answer me.

Daddy was on vigil of with his head held high watching out for any threats from the land side of the park. But, the goslings were making their familiar soft "googling" sounds as they happily munched from the flat of my hand. They are like little vacuum cleaners, their serrated mouths tickling as they efficiently sweep up the seed. After a few minutes, Daddy took a quick break from sentry duty to also take some morsels from my hand. I then petted two of the more confident goslings.

All kinds of questions ran through my head in those few precious moments with the family.

Where had they gone? What made them come back? Were they chased away from the new location? Did they return to check up on Binky? Was the food not as good as Turtle Pond? I could not figure out what had happened over the past week. Where the family had gone and why they had suddenly returned.

I just knew it was damn good to see them back. It was especially good for Binky who was once again reunited with his mother, his daddy and siblings. For now, no more lonely calling on the pond and no hiding out on the small rock surrounded by water at the west side of the pond. Binky was still enjoying the private time with his mom at the lower set of rock.

Slowly, I left the family and returned to my dogs.

As we retreated, I noted Binky and his mom finally going to the top of the rock to join the rest of the family in their usual place. Both duck families settled on the lower portion of the rocks -- within mere feet of the geese.

Mama goose took over the "sentry" position from Daddy looking over the land part of the park. Binky meanwhile settled in with his siblings and Daddy looking west over the pond and towards Belvedere Castle and the Delacourt Theatre.

There was a show going on at the theatre.

And then, as Tina, Chance and I began to leave, it suddenly occurred to me the real reason Binky's family had returned!

The colorful bright lights, the music and the evening shows at the Delacourt theatre!

Where the hell else were they going to find "Shakespeare in the Park?"

These are sophisticated geese with a taste for music, lights and the classics. -- PCA


1 comment:

washingtonsquarepark said...

Hi Patty,

How was it determined that it was Angel Wing?

Thanks for these pieces. Nice to get to know your environment at Central Park!