Little boy lost
It may possibly be obvious by now that I happily spend much of each day (as much as possible, in fact) keeping an eye on the happenings just beyond the windows.
So I was there to see what I consider the “first family” as they came close to the house to feed. Out of the corner of my eye I registered three of the goslings “playing” rough-and-tumble. Not terribly normal but neither anything I felt needed to concern me.
Even when one of the adults gave what I presumed was the offender a sharp nip, I accepted it as necessary discipline meted out by Pa or Ma. Only the victim, if victim he be, was now set upon by the two goslings he’d been playing with.
Was he a weakling, about to be ostracized or worse? I know goslings do tend to disappear but had never witnessed an excommunication. Is this what was happening now?
Before I could decide to (or not to) rescue the wee one, I observed him turn and walk away from the group. What kind of future could there be for one so tiny? One just slightly more than a week old?
Hector, I named him, walked slowly down the hill, his back to his group, never turning for one last look at what I assumed had been his family.
Before he reached the bottom, I was startled by a brash honking and a goose rushed loudly semi-flying toward my Hector. Watching in awe, by now I saw the rest of the second family quickly approach: another adult and a clutch of tumbling small ones.
There was no doubt (after a breath-holding moment) that this goose was prepared to be friendlier. Indeed it seemed very happy to welcome the little one.
It was simple then to surmise that Hector had simply wandered away from his “real” family and now, reunited, would stay with them until he was grown and gone. Not Hector.
He was back the following day and, again, alone. His miniature peeps, though constant, were high and so dim they didn’t register at first. What did was seeing this tiny gosling up to its neck in grass with no other goose anywhere in sight.
When a family finally did approach, I didn’t hesitate to herd him toward their group. Goose had a great deal to say to Hector who remained nonchalantly oblivious. I then tried to get him into the water where he eagerly approached every grown goose in turn, none of whom was having any part of this cheeping youngster.
Finally two grown geese followed the speck all the way across the lake where, last seen, he was swimming through the rushes on the far side. I silently whispered my good-bye.
Only next day Hector was back and no more sociable than before.
One does not expect a happy ending when one leaves a tiny gosling to fend for itself in the wilds. What, after all, are the odds?
Hector apparently beat them for a third family with their clutch of goslings now appeared, among them two who certainly seem to be Hector and perhaps even a brother or sister for their size was definitely different from the rest of the babes. Yet, miraculously, they have been accepted and fit right in. They travel in the midst of their large group, eat as well as any and behave as ordered by their watchful parents.
This year has brought a change, however, for the families seem ready to meld. Already the goslings drift from one group to another, casually and constantly.
Now in fact there is only one flotilla: two adults leading the group with two more bringing up the rear and all the little goslings floating serenely in between.
Hector was as much a part of the scene as any. Now he belonged.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org