Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Lost Lover

Give me rain any day over the smothering heat.
Yesterday, a short respite from the soaring, merciless temperatures of the previous week and instead, blessed rain.
The rain altered my plans about going to Harlem Meer.
I could not tell when leaving my home with my two dogs last night, whether the light rain falling would stop or turn into a downpour.
But, I took the chance of returning to the (closer) Reservoir, as well as again checking on the boat lake for the family of geese not seen the day before.
Central park was absolutely beautiful.
Temps in the high 60's, light rain falling and few people.
One would almost call it "ideal" except that to me, ideal walking weather in the park is between 35 and 40 degrees.
The family of geese were in one of their usual places in the Reservoir. And, like the morning before, the family structure was very much in place.  Mama, Papa and their three goslings from this spring, climbing up on embankment for some treats.   The "yearling" (older) siblings, keeping off to the sides at least ten feet away. 
Once again, a foolish yearling treading over the invisible line was quickly and forcefully admonished by the gander of the entire clan.  A chase and dunking in the water.  That seems to be the mode of "discipline" in goose families.
After spending some time with the extended goose family, I eventually left to continue walking to the west side of the Reservoir.
Along the way, I discovered a lone goose along one of the embankments all by himself!
That's odd, I thought.
It is indeed quite rare, though not impossible to see geese who are by themselves.
Of the three "hangers-on" to the goose family at the lake, I have noticed over the weeks that one of them has a tendency to sometimes wander off by himself.   A couple of weeks ago, when I was in a panic thinking the entire family had been rounded up by the USDA, there remained  one goose sitting like a statue under the moonlight and in the middle of the lake. 
The scene was eerie and (to me) frightening at the time.  Very weird to see a goose entirely alone on a lake.
But, it was not the first time I had seen this one goose by himself.
Nor, apparently, the last.
I threw a few treats to the lone (and seemingly new) goose on the Reservoir. He climbed up on the embankment to eat them.
I wondered where he came from and where was the rest of his family -- or mate?
But, it was a question that was not going to find an answer.
I did however think that if this goose tries to get an "in" with the established family already there, he could be in for some very rude "welcomes."
The papa goose at the Reservoir is not one to fool around with.
I remember the first few times when seeing my dogs, "Reservoir Papa" aggressively approached while hissing and I had to secure my dogs to a nearby fence.
This daddy is not at all like the peaceful and somewhat laid back Papa from Turtle Pond.
No answers to my question about the new and lone goose at the Reservoir, I continued on to the boat lake.
Much to my amazement and delight, the goose family was once again sitting on their "safe rock" in the middle of the lake!
The other day, I had speculated that they had flown off to the "gathering" site at Harlem Meer, even though it is still a little early in the season.
But, apparently they must have either been grazing somewhere on a park lawn or perhaps testing out their wings by flying to a nearby location.
But, last night they were back in their familiar setting.
And once again, when seeing me, they started, one by one, leaving the rock and slowly swimming over to the rock formation where I waited with my two dogs, Tina and Chance.
So beautiful watching them glide, in a straight line, so perfectly and effortlessly in time with the still water -- Like poetry across the water.
The family finally reached me, papa goose leading the troupe.  One by one, they climbed onto to the rock.
There was Papa, Mama, Twinkle Toes (the female goose who lost most of the webbing on one of her feet), their five yearling goslings and the other hanger-on.
But, that was only nine geese!
The loner goose had disappeared once again!
I wondered for a brief moment......but then didn't think more about it.
I didn't have a whole lot of treats with me, as most I had given to the Reservoir geese.
But, it didn't seem to matter that much.
I think the lake family come more to see me in greeting, rather than for food which they seem to have plenty of at the lake.
One of the yearling ganders took up the "sentry" position on the rock, while Papa relaxed and ate just a couple of treats.  Papa seems to be training him well.
Twinkle Toes and one of the goslings ate from my hand.  I like to especially cater to Twinkle Toes because I feel sorry for her.  In the beginning the other geese used to pick on her, but lately, they have accepted her.
By this time, the rain had stopped and and there was a beautiful cool breeze. What little sun was, had long since set and it was dark and quiet on the lake.
Eventually, when out of food, I sat down next to my dogs and just watched the peaceful geese nibbling the few seeds from the ground.
It was such a lovely scene that I could have stayed there forever.
There is just something about the geese that makes them such a part of a natural environment.  They bring everything around them to life.
To me, a lake or pond without geese is like a park without trees; a city without buildings; a spring without flowers.
Loud music began to filter through the otherwise quiet night air.  There was apparently some concert near the Bethesda Fountain or Central Park Band Shell.
Suddenly, all the geese stood to attention.
Papa then gently left the rock and Mama followed behind him.  One by one, all the other geese followed.   They slowly began drifting out on the lake in the direction of the music. They stopped and sat in the water and appeared to be listening.
I then recalled how much Mama and Papa seemed to enjoy with their kids, the musical plays and concerts that were held last year at the Delacourt Theatre near Turtle Pond.
I said then and now, these are geese who deeply appreciate culture and music.
I then said goodnight to my friends and left with my dogs to return home.
Once again, we walked back around the Reservoir.
I could see the Reservoir goose family out in the middle of the water, seemingly resting.
And once again, further down the path, I saw the one lone goose swimming lazily by himself.
I don't know, but am guessing it is the same one who stayed (off and on) through the molt with the goose family at the lake.
But, he is apparently still looking for his lost mate or family.
In these terrible days of "goose roundups" in New York City, it is easy to imagine that there may be many broken goose families or widowed spouses out there.
Or lost lovers without their mates.  -- PCA

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