While I was in the bathroom yesterday morning, my son came knocking with a, “Mom! What do you feed a baby goose?!” Of course, I wondered why this question was of such urgency, and he informed me that there was a baby goose in our front yard.
I’m sure most moms know the next line of this script: “I’ll be right out,” I told him.
In the couple minutes it took me to get to the yard, our little feathered friend had moved to the next yard over—which was being mowed by big landscaper mowers. My husband pointed me in the right direction, and I could already hear the little one’s cries over the white noise of the mower.
The landscaper knew we were trying to help the little bugger who, for simplicity’s sake, I will now refer to as Gus. Gus the Goose. He wasn’t quite a baby goose, though, more like a toddler or tween (beyond “gosling”—and I don’t mean Ryan—I am not up on my goose terminology). So the landscaper scooped up Gus, who was ensnared in some tall weeds, and gently set him down on our side of the fence.
Little Gus freaked.
He cried and ran around, well—for lack of an appropriate goose cliché—like a chicken with his head cut off.
No matter how slowly we moved or sweetly we cooed to him, he wanted nothing to do with us. The trouble was, he couldn’t fly, and unless he wanted to live in our yard until that day where his wings would lift him, he needed our help.
Unlike the wonderful nature shows filled with men and women who are extremely knowledgeable about wildlife, our little group’s best instinct was to offer water and some sunflower seeds along with some calming and reassuring voices.
Shockingly, Gus did not speak English. If we approached two steps, Gus frantically waddled seventy.
Eventually he resigned himself to his panic and fear and the seeming futility of it all. He waddled to the corner of our house by the glider door, nestled down, and ducked his little beak under a row of siding.
Our dog, Vito, as you can see, offered up a welcoming committee that Gus denied.
Here he was, needing help, having people want to help him, and all he could do was poop on our deck.
After he rested a few, we planned to pick him up and put him over our fence to set him free.
Still not speaking English, Gus freaked again.
He ran to the far corner of our yard, which has a compost hill, and climbed it. It wasn’t tall enough for him to make his escape, though, and while my husband moved in to scoop him up, poor Gus just jammed his head through the hole of the chain-link fence—as if maybe if he tried hard enough, his whole body would pop through.
He pretty much looked like a tween goose in the stockade.
But while he was in his own self-imposed stocks, my husband scooped him up and set him out of our yard.
Now he had his freedom, but…what would that mean? Little Gus on his own? My son and husband jumped the fence to follow Gus and make sure he could find his way to our nearby lake.
Within minutes, they came back and shared that they hadn’t made it to the lake because on the way, there was a group of adult geese that Gus ran into. It didn’t seem like his family, they said, because the geese didn’t exactly welcome him. No, first…they pecked him. I guess there is actual meaning behind the term “pecking order”! And once they pecked him a couple of times, they let him stay.
Now, I don’t speak Goose, just like Gus didn’t know English, but I’d like to think that that was their way of saying, “You can stick with us, just know your place,” because my guys said that after that, they all just kept on waddling.
It was time to exhale. Our little Gus had found his adoptive family, or at least picked up with a group that might show him the way back home.
After all of the excitement, I got to thinking—how many times had I, like Gus, been unable to see the helping hand extended to me? How many times had I ducked my figurative beak into a wall and hoped the problem would go away?
Gus was offered help all along—from the kind landscaper to our clumsy family—but he was too scared to be able to trust the offer. How many times and in how many ways have I been running around squawking and essentially running away from help, just like our little goose?
Someday Gus will make it to flight stage. He will be able to soar and swoop and see the world in a whole new way. I doubt that he’ll remember that before he could fly, he needed a little lift from a family of strangers…but I’d like to think that somewhere in his birdbrain he does have a little less fear and a slightly better understanding of the world around him.
Just like me.