The pace is picking up in our march towards summer. The sun is rising by 5:30 and we have already experienced some 90 degree days. The little neighborhood park I often visit has also changed its tempo.

With the warmer weather more people are out walking and the old oak trees that stood in contrast to the brilliant blue skies of winter are now in full leaf and throwing deep shadows on the lawns.  Even more children are in the playgrounds and the noontime parking lot is filled with the cars of local workers taking their lunch on the picnic benches.

This morning I parked near the small man-made pond. It was a short walk from the car to the park bench but by the time I got there my left knee was already aching. I sat down with relief and watched about a dozen ducks and geese splashing in the pond, dipping and diving for food.

Then I noticed a movement out of the corner of my eye and when I turned my head I saw a giant gray and white goose standing beside me. He was at least three feet high and had a large knob-like protuberance at the top of his bill. Those webbed feet were silent, I thought with some suspicion, as I looked him up and down.

He tipped his head and eyed me thoughtfully. I looked back at him and had what I sometimes call a “St. Francis” moment. Here we were, I mulled, two species part of the Great Circle of Life and seeking to relate on some intimate level. A beatific smile nudged the corners of my mouth.

That was about the same time said goose stepped closer and began bumping his chest against my left leg. My eyes widened, my mouth formed a silent O. I was about to protest when its big beak pecked experimentally at my leg. “Whoa!” I exclaimed, all thoughts of the interconnectedness of life forgotten as I reached for my cane.

We joined in a silent Vulcan mind meld and wrestled for dominance. Then the connection was broken and tossing its head it gave forth a great “Honk!’ and waddled away its tail feathers twitching in triumph. I slumped against the back of the bench and panted.

After a few moments I nonchalantly pivoted – which is like carefree only less concerned – and threw a backward glance over my left shoulder. The goose had taken up an observatory position about fifteen feet behind me with a heretofore unnoticed companion. Both geese were sitting on the grass, their x-ray eyes fastened on my back.

Feigning unconcern – which is like pretending only not as much fun – I turned back, determined to ignore their basilisk stares. Periodically, a variety of honks and honklettes issued from the pair and broke the peace of the morning. Soon I felt an unexplained burning in the center of my back accompanied by an increased tightness around my head.

I fidgeted, I twitched. I weighed the value of lingering longer. As I rose from the bench I whistled a happy tune under my breath, grasped my cane firmly an with some trepidation which is like being on the look out for a trap, set off down the path. As I rounded the corner the sound of derisive honks echoed in the morning air.


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