Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cago's Choice -- Her Heart in Harlem Meer

Cago and part of her "adopted" family yesterday at Harlem Meer.
Amidst all the bad news of recent times, including wide spread goose massacres, canned hunting of human raised pheasants, torture of chickens for religious rituals and numerous other animal horrors, it always represents respite and spirit renewal to escape to Central Park and see "my" special ducks and geese living free and peacefully.
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Only these days, I am only seeing one goose in Central Park -- Cago at Harlem Meer.
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It is of course a bit delusional to say geese live "peacefully" in Central Park considering the harassment program that is apparently waged against them most of the year.
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But, compared to other parks around New York City which have been sites of past goose roundups and slaughters, the geese (when they are actually there) have it better at Central Park than most other places.
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And at least one goose is seemingly living the good and peaceful life in Central Park.
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She had opportunity to leave with two other geese she had befriended over the past few weeks. 
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But, for whatever reason, Cago instead, elected to stay at Harlem Meer.  
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One would think such "choice" would not be to the ultimate benefit of a goose who opts to remain solitary as opposed to joining with geese s/he has been accepted by. Geese after all, are "flock" birds whose survival usually depends upon remaining in organized gaggles or pairs.
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But, it seems that regardless of how well Cago befriends or is accepted by other geese, they are ultimately not her family (or mate) and such alliances have so far, been fleeting.
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When the visiting other geese go, Cago strangely remains.
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When she first flew into Harlem Meer in late June (after presumably surviving a USDA WS goose roundup that likely took out her family and/or mate), I felt very sorry for Cago.
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It was sad to see the "lone goose" every night just standing alone on the edge of the little sandy beach at the Meer and staring longingly over the goose-empty water.  
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Everything about Cago then just seemed awash in inconsolable loss and bereavement.
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But, somehow Cago made it through the grief of family loss and stresses of the "molt" (which in her case, came much later than most geese) and during the process, Cago began to make friends at Harlem Meer.
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Cago made human friends and duck friends.
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Wherever Cago originally came from, she was, from the beginning, very acclimated to and trusting of humans. -- Even fishermen.
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It was common to see Cago standing leisurely next to fishermen and people and children picnicking at Harlem Meer.   Nothing appeared to truly "freak Cago out" -- even those off leash dogs who occasionally and rambunctiously chase the waterfowl. 
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Cago just took everything in stride, although with some sense of the necessary caution and wariness that is typical of geese.
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Still, I felt sorry for Cago, not having the company and community of other geese around.
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Following the molt, however, that soon changed at Harlem Meer as small gaggles of geese occasionally arrived and in one case, even a temporarily injured gander ("Toluse").
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But, whether the other geese were harassed out of the Meer or left on their own accord, there was never enough time for Cago to form permanent alliance with them.
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Even Toluse departed as soon as his injured leg healed despite Cago's nurturing and guiding gestures towards him.  (Presumably Toluse left to find his original family or mate.)
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But, when two young geese arrived to the Meer a few weeks ago, it seemed that at last, Cago had real opportunity to form and find new alliance and goose "family!"
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For at least a couple of weeks, the three geese hit it off very well and were almost always observed together.
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But, even that changed more than a week ago when "Goose 2 and Goose 3" suddenly departed and Cago was once again alone. 
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But, Cago is, of course, not really "alone."  She has her adopted family of ducks, humans and even the occasional pigeon or sparrow.
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Nor is Cago a solitary goose now out of circumstance as much as personal choice.
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It seems Cago did form important alliances and attachment over these past few months, but they are apparently to location, other birds and even humans.
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Cago's heart and loyalty -- for better or worse -- is at Harlem Meer.  
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And not even goose harassment can make her go.
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As for me, for totally selfish reasons, I am happy for Cago's seemingly courageous and risky choice though I might question its ultimate wisdom.
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Amidst all the other bad news of the times,  it is always of special happiness and spiritual renewal to experience Cago's warm and happy-to-see-you greetings each day.
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I like to think I am one of the reasons (albeit tiny on the list) Cago elected to stay.
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And no, I don't feel so "sorry" for Cago anymore, as much as grateful and appreciative. Cago is a very special goose, indeed. 
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She is all heart.   -- PCA
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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Patty,

Very touching. Due to you, I feel like I know Cago.

Thx.

Mary Castrovilla

rebecca said...

I too feel I know Cago! I enjoy your post, especially when Cago's continuing story is included.
Thanks,
Becky

PCA said...

Thanks, Rebecca and Mary.

A friend suggested that Cago doesn't leave because she is still not over the loss of her mate.

That is probably true, because Cago does appear to be a mature goose and she likely had a mate.

Thus, though able and willing to befriend new geese, actual bond and attachment may not occur soon, if ever, for Cago.

Geese apparently do not replace lost mates or loves easily or quickly.