Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wild Geese, Flying Feathers, and Story of the Week

April 2015
"Take any writer you want in the 19th century: they wrote with quill pens, dipping a piece of goose feather in ink and writing. And yet we read those novels today, and if we're sensitive to them, we respond to them with an immediacy that is stronger than anything written today on a word processor." --Walter Murch

I didn't write with a goose feather this week, but I did see geese feathers fly--and up too close for comfort. I raise the question: are wild geese really wild? The answer: ummm, can be (visit youtube for evidence). Thankfully, as it turns out, I didn't have to find out first hand.

It started out with this guy on the neighbor's roof. I was on my morning walk. The goose was trumpeting the neighborhood with his squawking as I approached. Interesting, I thought, though I've seen geese on roofs before (particularly on the barn next door, chronicled here). No big deal, really, but still I snapped a picture on my cell phone camera anyway.

Then came an answering call, and I looked up ahead and saw two additional geese strutting across the road. I heard a car approaching from behind me. Surely the two will take the hint and fly off?

Well, no. In fact they began heading my way. At this point I'm actually chuckling a little. 

But in seconds I begin to think maybe this isn't so funny. Not only did they come toward me, they made it clear they were agitated by MY presence.

I began to get a little nervous. "Go away!" I hissed (a sound not to be confused with their hissing).

They continued to advance. By this time I'm thinking maybe this isn't going to turn out so good. I backed up then turned away, hoping against hope they'd finally retreat. Then (oh, and btw, I'm not taking pictures at this point anymore), I heard the first goose--the scout on the neighbor's roof--squawk really really loud as it flew off. An ominous rustling sound, webbed feet on the ground and frantic wing action on the wind, ensued. I was sure I was a goner at the hands of three geese.

Just at that moment, I felt the wind rush over my head, and the three ascended and passed overhead almost near enough for me to touch them. At least that's how close it seemed. They flew a distance away AND THEN circled back over! Not once, not twice, but three times they did this, honking all the while. I mean, they really didn't want me there.

Finally they disappeared in the distance and I could breathe again.


Well, now I know: geese can exhibit aggressive territorial behavior, especially if their nest and young are near (wikipedia), and they have been known to charge and can inflict bruises with their beaks and wings (Living with Wildlife). Students were forced to take cover from an angry mother goose on the campus of the University of Warwick (Daily Mail), and employees at Hewlett-Packard, Boise, Idaho once got a memo titled "Boise Site Communication: Avoiding Geese Attacks" (Huffington Post).

So I count myself lucky to have gotten away unscathed. I think I'll choose a favorite 19th century novel to read--Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights comes to mind--and seek to regain my equilibrium.

While I have no plans to continue my WIP with a goose quill pen, I might find myself wishing to pluck a few feathers.

Any exciting stories from your week? What's your favorite 19th century novel?


  1. Ha! Exciting! Yes, the geese around here can be quite protective and they hiss a lot. My daughters prefer ducks when at the feeding pond :) One of my favorite poems is Mary Oliver's Wild Geese. Do you know it?

  2. Jess, I am familiar with Oliver's 'Wild Geese.' I was also given Oliver's "A Poetry Handbook" for a gift. Great book on writing poetry :-) Timely subject since April is/was National Poetry Month! Thanks for stopping by...

  3. I am so glad you are safe and sound. What an adventure! We see geese regularly in the farmer's irrigation pond behind our property. They fly overhead and even land on our side of the fence sometimes, but no such aggressive behavior to date. Something to be aware of, thanks. Have a great weekend!

  4. Thanks, Karen--and enjoy the geese you see, from a distance! Happy weekend back to you :-)

  5. Glad you got away from the geese. What we've seen in our back yard lately that we have never seen before are flocks of wild turkeys. They're scrawny looking--wouldn't eat one for Thanksgiving--but I love birds, any birds, and so I was delighted to see them.

  6. Cathy, we've had wild turkeys in our neighborhood, too. Also turkey buzzards. Now there's an ugly bird! Thanks for stopping by...

  7. Whoa, Kenda, that was close! What an adventure and I'm so glad they decided not to attack just warn you! When I lived in north Texas we saw and heard the geese flying over each autumn. I miss that!

  8. Lol !I loved this story! I would have ran like the wind myself! My husband once warned me that geese were not to be messed with--after an encounter with my grandchildren at a park!

  9. Catherine, the geese flying in formation overhead is most always a neat thing, but I sure look at them a little differently now :-)

    and Terri, glad you liked the story--and that it helped reinforce your hubby's warning. One day maybe I'll tell of the time I faced down a doe standing there with her two fawns!!

  10. I love your quote, and it is amazing that stories written long ago can connect so powerfully to us in the present. I take great joy teaching my kids French from the primer you found for us, published in 1919! (Not quite the 19th century but close). I had heard your geese story, but reading it here brings all the drama and visuals (well until you stopped the camera, ha). :)

  11. supermom--see I told you I was in danger, ha! The evidence is in the photos. Thanks for dropping in so you could 'see' it all in action :-)

  12. supermom--see I told you I was in danger, ha! The evidence is in the photos. Thanks for dropping in so you could 'see' it all in action :-)