Thursday, March 31, 2011

"What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander!" (The Romance of the Gander)

(Photos:  Papa goose: Romantic, brave, proud, chivalrous. Mama goose: demure, calm, gentle and proud of her mate.  The two lovers together.)
Have you ever wondered the origins of popular expressions?
Such as, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!"
Well, I think I may have stumbled on how this particular adage came about:
Yesterday, I took my dogs to Turtle Pond around dusk to check on the current goose situation over there.
The last time I had been to the pond almost a week ago, there were a total of nine geese:  Mama and papa goose who recently separated themselves from their five grown goslings of last summer. And the yearling goslings who apparently settled in with another family of young geese who recently arrived at the pond.  
But, the situation was different yesterday.
At least two more gaggles of geese had apparently flown in and joined the rest. 
All seemed to be quite peaceful when I walked to the little pier overlooking Turtle Pond.
Several groups of young geese and mallards were lazily swimming on the water.
But, I did not immediately see the parent geese from last year.
Then, all of a sudden, I heard some loud honking coming from the tiny island of marsh and trees that lies between Belvedere Castle and the rest of Turtle Pond.
It was Papa goose!  And, right next to him, was mama!
The two geese appeared from within the marshes and walked to the edge of the embankment, papa with his familiar "limp" and mama tagging closely behind.
Then, Papa goose entered the water, still honking loudly and with a belligerent posture.
Upon hearing and seeing the tough gander suddenly swimming towards them, the groups of young geese on the water suddenly began to scatter.
"Oh, oh, here comes daddy!  We gotta move!"
For those juvenile geese who did not move quickly enough, daddy suddenly took off after them, flying across the water in aggressive fashion!
He poked a couple of the slower geese with his beak and even jumped on top of one or two, pushing them down in the water!
"Oh, my word!"
It all happened so fast, I was unable to get my camera out fast enough to shoot a video.
Within less than a minute, all the other geese were submissively relegated to the far end of the pond.   
Daddy then started to move back towards the direction of the pier, still honking and swaying his head in threatening position.  
And like a king laying out the red carpet for his queen, Papa proceeded to clear an open path of water for his lady love to enter the pond.
Mama goose then gingerly entered the water like the queen that she is and casually swam towards the pier.
The two lovers met on the water a few feet below from where I was standing and honked what seemed like "sweet nothings" to each other.
"My lady, I have cleared the way for you!   Let us enjoy our evening repast in peace!"
"You are so strong and brave, my love!  But, relax now, dear.  We are alone now. Everything is cool."
It was around that time, I shot a short video of the two lovebirds (literally.)
I don't know of course, if mama and papa actually remember me from last year.
Perhaps they are just used to begging treats from people coming on the pier to admire the birds of the pond.
But, papa's loud honking from the moment I arrived and his subsequent chasing of the other geese might indicate some memory or recognition.
Still, I believe its just as likely papa's salty behavior now is to be expected in the normal courtship and mating ritual of Canada geese.
Perhaps the reality is that it was a combination of both yesterday.
In any event, one of the gaggles of geese on the far side of the pond apparently decided all this drama and intimidation was too much for them.  After some honks and discussion, the five geese took off in "V" formation towards the direction of the Great Lawn.  It had not been too pleasant an evening for them.
Meanwhile, I tossed some seeds to the romantic couple of Turtle Pond and remarked to daddy what a prince he was!
"Such chivalry!  Such majesty!  Anything for your lady, yes?"
It seems the romance, ritual and pageantry never really ends for mated Canada geese -- even when they have been together for years.  (Ah, that only it were that way for humans!)
I think if there is such a thing as "reincarnation," I want to come back in the next life as a female Canada goose (provided humans are a little kinder).
Anything for their ladies.
"What's good for the goose is good for the gander."  -- PCA

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