Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goose stepping

Yesterday I was out for a walk in a nearby park and saw twenty geese with their heads all buried in the snow, scratching at the grass underneath for food. The scene would have made a perfect photograph for the old Grit farm newsletter of years past. The caption might have read:

Geese take a tip from the ostrich

Or perhaps:

A goose needs to keep a cool head

Or, in a macabre vein, alluding to recent reports of cattle mutilations:

Goose heads taken by strange visitors from space?

Unfortunately, I had left my digital camera at home yesterday and lost my chance to take the shot.

In hopes of a second chance, I took the camera with me to the park this afternoon. When I arrived, I was pleased to find a hundred geese assembled. I moved up the sidewalk slowly (to avoid disturbing the geese) and carefully (to avoid the abundant droppings). I took several practice photographs (one provided above) and then planned my move out into the field, to where the snow hadn't been trampled and the geese were still able to bury their heads in soft snow.

A middle-aged woman came power-walking up the sidewalk behind me. I turned, smiled, and said, "Watch your step."

She snapped, "I intend to." Then she shot past me -- head up, arms pumping, and hips rocking -- heedless of the goose poop. She instantly spooked the geese. They squawked, lifted white-feathered wings, and took flight. My photo shoot was ruined.

As I watched her march into the distance, I treasured the compensations of solitary bachelorhood.