We greatly enjoy our animal neighbors, from black bears lumbering across the lawn to Blackburnian warblers up in the sugar maples, but we have our limit.
That limit is…Canada geese.
Yes, the Canada goose is handsome, grayish white with a black neck and head and a white chinstrap. Yes, they mate for life, a devoted couple, and kudos to them for that.
They are large, and a bit thuggish. If the geese land on our pond, the wood ducks and mallards and hooded mergansers don’t come. Mr. and Mrs. Goose sail around our pond like the battleships of an occupying force.
They also leave a noxious mess on the lawn, nothing you want to accidentally step in.
Additionally, geese have a provocative attitude.
For instance, as a teenager, I once faced a flock of domestic geese running at me, long necks extended, hissing and honking, and I ran like a yellow-bellied coward.
I do bear grudges.
Not long ago a pair of Canada geese landed on our pond, sailed around regally, then strutted up onto our lawn, undoubtedly ready to do their worst.
I went Viking berserk.
Instead of a battle axe, I grabbed my jacket and charged down the hill, flapping the jacket at the invading geese, a fearsome sight, I thought.
Apparently, though, not so much.
Both geese regarded me with heads up and a glare that clearly said: “Hey, what’s your problem, Mack?”
They watched me with contempt, running and yelling and flapping, and then—at the ultimate moment—with dignity and cool disdain—they strolled to the pond and swam a ways offshore. They turned to look at me, now stamping along the dam, flapping my jacket at them, and calling them vulgar names.
They glanced at each other, apparently saying, “Man, that guy’s one lunatic goofball.”
Provoked, I ran along the dam, flapping the jacket even harder, until something slippery happened with the concrete under my feet.
A moment later, I found myself neck-deep in cold water, along with my jacket, no longer flapping.
Interested, the geese watched me crawl out of the pond and trudge dripping back up to the house (and a towel).
For another half hour, they swam serenely about, in stately circles. Then, having made their statement, they flew away in a thunder of wings and a downward glare of disdain—they saw me, I believe, in the picture window, wrapped in a bathrobe, watching in shame.
We no longer try to chase away the Canada geese. Their homeland to the north, after all, is our country’s closest ally, and we try to bear that in mind.