By ERIN O'BRIEN The solitary swans had been gone about a week when I wondered who the new tenants in the cove would be. I watched one afternoon as two hawks competed for airspace and the hunting spoils below, but they were just passing through. Suddenly,
The solitary swans had been gone about a week when I wondered who the new tenants in the cove would be. I watched one afternoon as two hawks competed for airspace and the hunting spoils below, but they were just passing through. Suddenly, in a scene reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, hundreds of seagulls, swooping, screeching, and soaring, squared off with a flock of cormorants, who’d recently intruded in the local waters. The new arrivals, that earlier perched like Dracula as they dried their dark black wings on the rocks, now plummeted into the churning water in competition for the fish bubbling below the surface. The quarrel moved to the bank of the cove, startling two elegant herons silently stalking the fish behind the reeds, sending them into flight. Their long legs folded on hinges like landing gear for later. My first fall in New England, I stopped mid-sentence speaking to my next-door neighbor, to watch a honking flock of geese as it passed overhead in a perfect V. He dismissed it as an everyday occurrence of the season, but I was awestruck. He predicted I wouldn’t feel that way in a week. Rumor had it he used an air horn to scare them off his lawn. Truth be told, a week later I pulled out my kayak whistle, and finding that ineffective, discovered pan lids worked quite well as cymbals. However, as soon as I turned my back, the geese resumed their destruction of my lawn, moving closer to the house, slowly encroaching on my personal space. I watched sympathetically as another neighbor ran towards the geese, beating a pot with a serving spoon. Was she threatening to put them on the menu? Then I noticed one goose in particular. It always flew in the rear left, with one webbed foot dangling, and limped across the grass as it tried to keep up with the flock. I hadn’t the heart to chase it off with clanging cymbals. I convinced my husband we should put up a line of yellow police tape. That worked well that first fall, but not so well for the other neighbor’s lawn. Thankfully, they were out of town. The following fall, the geese were wise to our plan and simply flew over the Do Not Cross yellow line. That was when I recognized the goose from the previous autumn. There it was, in its familiar position in the rear left of the V formation, sailing above me. Later, it limped across the lawn, searching for grub. Canada Geese have been scouting locations lately. What is it about the geese that thrills? What a wonder to hear their flapping wings as they soar over me! I anticipate their next visit, having long forgotten the way they ravaged our lawn. Instead, as I wait for their distant honking when they take up residence in the cove, I think of the one assigned to the rear left. When it flies over, it’ll be like seeing an old friend. As the geese overtake our lawn, Ill leave my pots and pans inside, and as before, as they hurriedly make their way back to the water, I’ll allow the one that limps a wide berth, as it catches up to the others. I hope it returns with the others this fall. That goose, I’ve decided, has pluck.