My mother came home from work and announced, “I ran over one of those short-necked geese.” I was by no means an animal expert. We had only one week of animal studies in my fifth grade class, but still, I knew. “That would be a duck, mother.”
The geese ruled Lake Agnes. We lived in the land of 10,000 lakes, but some were not rightfully ours. Lake Agnes, the one by our house, was one of them. Canadian Geese. They were huge, and unlike their namesakes, were mean, so very mean. On foot, they would chase you. And hiss. I think it was the hissing that was the most terrifying. For approximately a quarter of a mile, they would chase you along the shore, until you made it past the railroad tracks, to Big Ole. Big Ole was the viking statue that signified the Birthplace of America. Whether it all began there, here, America that is, that was uncertain, but it was the point of safety, and so each of our journeys did in fact, begin by Big Ole. The geese chased the ducks. They chased the kids. The bikers. Even the cars. The geese ruled. Lake Agnes was theirs. We all knew it. We swam in Lake Latoka.
And so I ran. I ran passed Lake Agnes. Sped with hissing and fear. Flapping wings and more hissing. And I ran. Breathless to Big Ole. I came home to a sold sign in our front yard. My mom and I weren’t moving up. Certainly not even moving. We were being pushed. Chased. Sold. Nothing to run to or from. Nothing. Sold. Your life could be packed and thrown away with one sign. I walked. I walked down the gravel road. I neared Lake Agnes. I couldn’t run anymore. If there was nothing to run back to, why run at all. They surrounded me. I walked. The encircled me. They hissed. Oh how they hissed. But not at me. Had they ever been hissing at me? They carried me to Big Ole and turned back for the lake.
I had it wrong for so long. They weren’t able to save everyone, but oh, how they tried. I was just as protected as the downy yellow goslings. Comfort comes. Maybe when we need it most. Maybe when we stop running. Comfort comes.
I saw this sleeping goose in New York. We had both made it so far. I knew he knew. I stood beside him. Watched over him. Let him sleep. Comfort comes.