Saturday, May 26, 2012

Romantic Holiday Getaways (Yes, Geese Do mark Human Calendars!)

Long, Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Time for beaches, amusement parks and in some cases, romantic adventures and getaways.
But, I was worried yesterday when arriving to the Boat Lake and not seeing Mama and Papa in their usual spots.
Where are they? 
A lone goose was swimming on the water and honking repeatedly.
Is that Papa?  Did something happen to Mama?  Oh my God!
It is highly unusual for these two "love birds" not to be immediately seen together.
I could not figure what was going on, but for the moment, was distracted by the new family of geese who apparently have taken a recent liking to one of the rock formations off the Ramble.
I went to spend a little time with them before heading off on a search for Mama and Papa.
Knowing the father of this family to be extremely protective and untrusting of dogs, I parked my two dogs, Tina and Chance an extra few feet away from the family.
But, that did not deter the overly wary gander from staring in their direction and continually hissing for the roughly half hour that I spent with him, his "wife" and their six goslings.
Although I only know this family less than a week, the goslings grow by the day.
They are already as big as mallards, though still possess some of that yellowish, fine down.
The goslings are particularly trustful of humans and readily walk up, demanding treats. Several of them I can pet, though both parent geese keep a particularly watchful eye of that.  One false move and I might well be a goner.   I still have that image of the parent geese banishing the snapping turtle from the rock a few nights ago and sending him plunging into the water.
That could be me, though luckily I can swim.
Nevertheless, still worried over not seeing Mama and Papa, I cut the visit with the family short. With two parents as vigilant as these two, I have no great and immediate fears for the Mom, Dad and six obedient goslings who stay within a very tight group. The parents watch their babies better than eagles.
Nervous, I reclaimed my dogs and began to walk along the edge of the lake to areas in the Ramble neither I nor Mama and Papa normally go.
Thick brush, tall trees, winding paths and off limit areas made full visibility on the Boat Lake somewhat difficult.  But I was determined to walk the entire perimeter of the water if I had to!
After about 15 minutes, I finally reached a clearing that allowed visibility to the water as well as public access. 
And low and behold, I could make out two geese ambling lazily among the wood chips on the ground.
Going closer,  I noticed the one lame gander and the missing webbing on Mama's right foot.
It was Mama and Papa!
"Well, what in the world are you guys doing all the way over here?  Do you realize the scare you gave me?  I thought something horrible had happened!
Papa gave his usual low honk greeting and Mama waddled up to take treats from my hand as she always does.
Neither goose made any apology.
Meanwhile, a third goose who was standing on a rock nearby began to make his way over to curiously investigate.  Mama gave a forward head motion as if to say, "We don't mind you hanging with us, but don't spoil our party!!"  (Was this the goose I saw earlier swimming and honking on the lake?  Could be.)
And while all this was happening, two of Mama and Papa's grown "kids" from 2010, took several "joy flies" over the lake, flying in circles and honking loudly.
"Wow, listen to the racket those two are creating!" I said to Mama and Papa. "You'd better tell them to quiet down or they'll have the USDA here in no time!"
But, Mama and Papa were too enjoying their little romantic adventure to pay my warnings - or me much mind.
It is, after all a holiday weekend.
Finally saying goodnight to Mama and Papa and leaving the little cozy enclave, I wasn't quite sure where I was.
I then realized I very close to Bow Bridge -- one of the most "romantic" areas in all of Central Park and a popular hangout for lovers!
Ah, OK, I get it now!
Walking back the same way I came, the goose family had settled down on the rock for the evening ahead.   Parents on each side and the goslings clustered together in two groups of three.   But, the gander immediately looked at me passing with my dogs and hissed.
"Oh, hush up there, Dad!  We are just passing through. Its a holiday. RELAX!
Ganders of goose families never in fact, "sleep."   If they attempt to rest at all, it is with both eyes open all of the time.
I have often wondered what geese do during the dark hours of night when parks are closed and all is generally quiet?
But, as speculated in the past, I believe the geese secretly read newspapers and also check calendars.
Most of the geese have in fact, left NYC parks just prior to anticipated USDA roundups.  The few who remain are those "resident" geese who have been hatched and raised in city parks.
But, I trust my Central Park geese have some kind of plan for splitting up and avoiding USDA culls.
As for the "calendars," well there is no doubt the geese are very aware of all the holidays we humans mark.
Just three weeks ago, Mama and Papa's grown "kids" returned to visit them on the home rock during Mother's Day.
And of course last night, there was that little "romantic adventure" to Bow Bridge by Mama and Papa.
What better way to celebrate the beginning of a long, holiday "getaway" weekend?
I believe Mama and Papa settled down to a candlelight dinner after I left, listened to the bongo drum "concert" from nearby Bethesda Fountain and probably took some night photos from the ever romantic, Bow Bridge. --- PCA

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