Aug 132019

When I think about advice not taken, ‘don’t feed the geese’ could, under some circumstances, make the list. ‘Clean your plate.’ ‘Never burn a bridge.’ ‘Don’t make waves.’ ‘Be a good loser.’ Geese walking in the parking lot‘Don’t go out with wet hair.’ ‘Only loan books you don’t want back.’ Advice. Well-intended but not always welcome. Wanted but not always followed. Followed — but imperfectly or not under the right circumstances. You get it: advice can be a slippery slope.

You may remember my earlier goose posts: after discovering that neighbors had been running them over for sport, my husband and I made a safe place for them. In all honesty, had I foreseen the destruction of plants and the mess near our dock, I might have thought better of the plan. But here I was — sad and angry — shooting straight from a heart that still can’t understand why someone would hurt an innocent.

Why Would Someone Hurt an Innocent?

For several summers I watched them: the return, the hatchlings, the lessons. And, while I had always loved to hear them, high overhead, singing their way to the next destination, there was something about living with them. I saw their personalities and their habits, and I learned to love them.

Advice. Well-intended but not always welcome. Wanted but not always followed. Click To Tweet

I learned that they make a distinction between “people” and “our people.” And, quite by accident, I discovered I should probably do the same thing.

Canada geese are wild. They make a distinction between “people” and “our people.” Click To Tweet

Back when Favorite Husband and I were trying to decide whether we wanted to stay in New Hampshire or move to an island in northeast Florida, I learned something most of you know: Canada geese are wild.

Canada Geese Are Wild

At the time, we had a beautiful old chocolate Labrador retriever. He was, by then, severely diabetic and was almost blind as a result. As a result, when we expected to be away from the house for more than an hour, we packed the dogs into their crates so they could be with us.

On this particular occasion, Favorite Husband was practicing a martial art. I don’t remember why I needed or wanted to go along, but I had a book and my dogs. I was happy.

Eventually, I decided the old man (the dog, not the husband) needed to stretch his legs a bit. As we rounded the backside of the dojo, I was delighted to see a pair of Canada geese. I think they were my first since arriving in Florida. Seeing them, a fictional loop in my head was complete— our geese really did go south for the winter!

I decided the old man (the dog, not the husband) needed to stretch his legs a bit. Click To Tweet

The pair should have been a clue — there are very few times I ever saw a single pair of wild geese. It was rare enough that I should probably have substituted “nesting pair.” As the dog and I wandered happily toward them, they responded — not as the friends I had in my head but as someone protecting their soon-to-be babies from a home invasion. I didn’t know that old dog could still move so fast, but we made a safe escape.

And that little encounter may have something to do with my ongoing ignorance about the behavioral patterns of Canada geese in northeast Florida. For a while, I didn’t see many of them. For a while I missed them. Then I stopped thinking about them.

Don’t Forget Your Loved Ones

When someone has a place deep in your heart, it’s not wise to forget them. Last week two large families of geese wandered up our street to play in the post-downpour puddles. I was a little too glad to see them, took some pictures, and, once again, didn’t give another thought. So yesterday, while leaving the auto parts store, I was a little surprised to see seven or eight of them.

I was even more startled when they got close enough that I could hear them grunting and gurgling. They continued walking toward me. Opening the car door didn’t slow them at all — in fact, their behavior was a bit more like dogs wanting to take a ride than the standoffish Florida-Canada geese I’d come to know and avoid. And, while I’m pretty sure these aren’t our New Hampshire geese, there’s one thing I know for sure.

Somewhere on this island is another person who ignores advice: somebody is feeding the geese. And I’m delighted.



  13 Responses to “Advice Not Taken ~ Please Don’t Feed the Geese”

  1. Very nice Andrea.

  2. Ah, Canada geese. I live in N Florida and there’s a pond out back. We have ducks as well as herons, storks, egrets, the occasional cormorant, and geese. Lots of folks don’t like the geese; they do make a mess and once they even decided as a group to eat all my flowers (no idea why or why then), but I love to see them fly in and land and I love their sounds and their beauty. They seem to have accepted my little dog as one of “theirs”, too. Whenever he goes out back (always accompanied by an adult), the geese immediately paddle over and simply sit there at the bank and watch him. He likewise watches them for a while and then goes his own way. No barking, charging, etc. I wish I knew what dog and geese were thinking, but they won’t tell. As for me, I guess there’s room for all of us here.

  3. I like the idea of connecting with the wild. Similarities…differences and memories. Your brilliant humor shines through as always!

  4. I love your stories about the geese. My grandmother had geese as pets. They are territorial but considered us their people. 🙂 I would have taken them in too had I known!

  5. I truly enjoyed this post, Andrea. I’m still snickering at your comment, “I decided the old man (the dog, not the husband)…” I had an old gal (female black lab) that, at sixteen years old, still hustled and chased after the critters when they came in the yard. I miss that gal.

  6. I have had my own run-ins with ill-tempered geese in my life. Having said that, I still thrill to the sight and the sound of our geese here up north when they start their migration south. They fly right over my apartment and as I live on the top floor I get a birds-eye view. I’ve been told that the constant noise they make when flying is to encourage each other to keep going, and that when the leader gets tired, someone comes up front to take his place. Say what you want about their attitude about humans, but they sure work together better than we do!

    • I, too, admire their team work. They could get a little turf-y around food, but they always managed to work things out. And the migration? Magnificent.

  7. I love nature! Enjoyed reading your thoughts and perspective.

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