Not expecting any changes last night, I didn't bring my camera when going to Harlem Meer.
But, of course that is almost to always guarantee there will be change.
The ducks were gathered along the embankment in their usual cluster. Brad, Wiggly, Honker and all their pals waddled to greet me when I arrived. That was normal and routine.
But, I did not immediately see Danny, the lone goose on the embankment and wondered briefly where he was?
Looking out over the darkened water, I could soon make out a goose.
And then another and another and another!
There was in fact, a whole family of geese!
Slowly, the geese approached and after some initial caution, hopped up upon the embankment with daring and confidence.
There were 8 of them!
I looked closely at the newly arrived family to see if I recognized them.
But, I did not.
They were not Papa and Mama goose from Turtle Pond, (recognizable by lame legs) nor were they Buster and his family, recognizable by Buster's usual feisty and pushy behavior around other waterfowl.
Rather, they appeared to be a rather youthful family, the gander of which was surprisingly peaceful and laid back around the ducks.
The family of geese did not directly approach me, but appeared to be curious about the scene before them. The gander took up a sentry position while his mate and youngsters began to graze on the grass.
It was about that time that a ninth goose swam across the water and climbed on to the embankment.
It was Danny!
Danny carefully gazed at the new goose family and the gander immediately stood at attention and stared at him.
Is there going to be a problem? I wondered.
There was no problem or confrontation.
But, it was quickly obvious that this new family of geese was not the "lost family" that Danny has been waiting and searching for over the past month.
One could almost imagine the daddy gander of the new family wondering why there was a lone goose in the area and Danny signaling through some kind of non-threatening body language that he represented no challenge to the visitors.
Danny cautiously waddled up to me and took some treats from my hand.
The new family, including the gander returned to grazing on the grass, though the sentry goose continued casual vigilance.
This continued for some time, while I backed off and sat on a rock to observe.
What was most striking was the difference in body language and behavior between the new goose family and Danny.
All the geese in the family appeared perky, confident, secure and "happy."
How does one discern "happy" in geese?
Its hard to describe in words as it appears to be more "vibe" or "aura" than anything else.
The postures of the family were confident, their heads high and they mostly stayed in a tight knit, relaxed, "cheerful" group.
Nothing about them appeared nervous, wary, defensive or even particularly cautious. They did not flinch when people walked by nor displayed any feistiness or nervousness towards the raucous, noisy ducks. It was apparent that the new geese were more than comfortable in their new environment, walking freely about and nibbling at the grass.
Contrast that to the still very cautious and somewhat "nervous" Danny who rarely appears totally in sync and comfortable in an environment without his family.
I rarely if ever see Danny casually nibbling at the grass. If he grazes at all it is with herky jerky motions, grabbing a quick bite and then quickly looking up.
Danny's walk is different too.
After a while, Danny began to move ploddingly away. But, it was a slow, cautious waddle among the ducks as if bearing the weight of the world upon his shoulders.
This was in sharp contrast to the quick, confident steps of the goose family.
Danny eventually lowered himself into the water and slowly began to swim away.
The disappointment in realizing the new goose family arriving to Harlem Meer was not his own was almost palpable and certainly evident in every feather of his being.
While I had been hoping that new geese would show up to the Meer with which Danny might be able to join, it appears that goose families are more tight knit and set than that.
As I left Harlem Meer last night, the new goose family freely nibbled at the grass without a seeming care in the world.
But, somewhere on the water was a lone goose still searching for his own.
It was just another night for Danny to once again accept his lot in life.
Ducks and geese all around him, but none to be, his own. -- PCA