Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Home, Home on the Lake

Hi and welcome to my blog. Can't imagine who on earth would want to read things about me but , to each his own.

Last weekend I moved very reluctantly from my classy (I thought ) apartment on the outskirts of Oklahoma City to an older complex that sits on a lake. My apartment faces the lake. I am on the first floor and was pretty nervous at first. My two cats who are indoor folks, were stunned at the view and even more stunned when the geese showed up outside our patio door. I was too. Part of the allure for me was the lake and the geese. Although I knew the drawbacks of living among the wild beasts, they intrigued me and I immediatley thought of them as MY faminly. And while my new home wallowed around in packing boxes, I was introducing myself to all of my new neighbor geese.

These geese are semi unique in that they make their permanent home here. And I have discovered that the reason we have no grass is that there are multitudes of goosefeet goosestepping from place to place where well-meaning but in my mind not wise people feed them with slices of bread and potato chips. This cannot be the recommended diet for geese.

The geese have interbred with some white domestics and the results have been varied and sometimes gorgeous. The goose in my intro folder is a Canada goose, and I will try to add pictures of the hybrids later.

My first night I spent marveling at the fact that a hybrid mother laid her clutch in a sheltering bush directly outside my bedroom window. What a thrill. The father is also a hybrid. It soon became evident just who belonged to which extended family. There were at least 4 to 5 ganders scouting the area for intruders, 2 hybrid, 2 Canada, 1 white domestic along with their mates and the partner of the one sitting on the nest. I talked with them gently all the time, ignoring my unpacking, and enjoying the lake and its inhabitants.

I noted that she often left the nest to go for a swim or to bathe, take a stroll with her mate, then return to sitting. It is a peaceful setting and I secretly congratulated myself on finding such a place. Then one night, it started. A stray dog wandered by and noted the location of the clutch for future plans. Then some of the smart-aleck kids from down the road found her. Apparently, she played dead because they kept saying she was dead and began polking her with a stick while I am in the house screaming for them to let her alone along with the males who got extremely cranky and mean went after the boys, the mother skidded off into the lake.

I had a long chat with the goose family and tried to calm them down until we all retired and the mother nested agin.

Late the next evening, the dog returned and slobbered all over several eggs rendering them excluded from the clutch. By then, the family was very comfortable with me, all that is except uncle Archie Bunker, he just likes fighting. I went to the nest and sympathised with the couple, and although she would not sit on the 3 eggs, she was not ready to relinquish them either.

The little deliquents came once in awhile to poke sticks at the family to see them get riled up but never again approached the eggs.

My cats were very curious about the lady goose in the bushes, and they were so unintimidating, that the geese pretty much ignore them. I kept thinking I needed get new batteries for the digital camera, then forget again when out. But in the back of my mind, I pictured myself another Jane Goodall living amongst the geese and getting the privilege to record this coming "hatching" up close and personal, camera in hand, speaking in low hushed tones and possessing, I might add, the ability to "squat" and get up again. So Saturday I ventured off to get the batteries and begin the photo journal of a lifetime. When I returned Saturday evening the entire family was standing in a semi-circle around the area of the bush. Testing the waters, I went out to investigate. I walked slowly in bare feet toward what is obviously ritual when someone who has been sitting loses some of the clutch. She had discarded the three eggs by rolling them out of the nest onto the ground. I have never seen them so quiet. Stupidly, maybe, I requested to pick them up and take them away for her...AND THEY LET ME! I knew then that things were not settled and I was so right.

The next day when I returned home, I looked out the bedroom window and was absolutely stunned. All of the eggs were gone as were the mother and her mate. They obviously had spent a good number of hours moving each and every egg left to another safer place. I was devasted. They were gone. Part of the family still remains by my patio area -Archie Bunker and Edith- and they grumble and gripe constantly, Archie especially. He is smaller than many of the males and I think he tries to make up for that by challenging the world to a neck undulating feather cracking, goose screaming fight, especially when other family groups bring their gosslings around. Just yesterday there was such a gang fight going on--you haven't seen a fight until you see these humongous birds fighting to kill. Everyone left with broken fethers and swollen necks. I thought one of the ganders was dead and so did his mate. She poked around on him until he finally got up. My guess is not only was he deprived of oxygen for a while, but embarrassment played a big factor. In the pc game, Tumblebugs, they show a unique saying something like "when defeated, play dead".

At any rate, life goes on. I still miss the little mother and sometimes when she and her mate and an auntie stroll by the patio, and I am out, she will stop for a moment and we will exchange a few words and a friendly gaze. I am still waiting to see the hatchlings walk by with their family. Guess I will get busy unpacking now.

Oh, by the way, there are also many ducks, and a white Heron, and the lake is teaming with fish.

(Originally published 5/9/06)
*Until I catch up, I will be blogging earlier narratives. Because they build on one another, I did not want you to miss a single adventure.


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