Several years ago, following a complaint of what sounded like a goose honking day in and day out, game wardens went to a house down the creek and found a Canada Goose confined to a small crate. She had been kept in that crate for so long, she was permanently deformed and unable to fly. The game wardens took custody of the goose and after talking to a number of people decided to release her at my friend’s place of business, since it is well back off the road, has its own pond, and is visited regularly by other Canada geese.
Lucy, as she was known, settled in, and it became home. She visited with the migrating geese, was courted by a few, but never paired off, probably because she was earth bound. Lucy would come to the front door of the office and tap on the glass when she thought the corn supply was running low. The manager bought her a kid sized swimming pool that she could happily splash around in when she didn’t want to go down to the pond. She was NOT spoiled, definitely not, no, huh uh!
About a week before Thanksgiving, my friend and her boss arrived at work to find that someone had been there over the week-end, there were tire tracks across the lawn area, and it was obvious an area had been roughly constructed to corral something, then very erratic tracks heading back out to the road, a post knocked over, mailbox had been hit… etc. And Lucy was gone. The guess is, she was not caged, just grabbed and put in the cab of the truck and that made driving a bit tricky. On the other hand, the beer cans left on the ground near the make-shift corral might have contributed to the, um, irregular driving pattern! Or both!
Guesses were plentiful, but most of us figured someone wanted roasted goose for Thanksgiving. But they hadn’t planned on how feisty this little crippled goose might be. I have no doubt she put up one heck of a fight.
The local radio station did a piece on Lucy begging the perps to return her. A local paper did an article about the Great Goose caper, again, asking the thieves to return Lucy. Several reports came in of Lucy sightings, a goose walking along the road here or there or heading into the woods down near the landfill. Lucy’s friends drove miles and miles around and around the area with a bucket of corn calling her name – all to no avail. After a while, the sightings stopped. No Lucy sightings, no goosey sightings… she had dropped out of sight – or, well, Thanksgiving was over, even the left overs were long gone.
We stopped asking, we tried to stop wondering if… I mean, how far had they taken her? Did they get her all the way home? Was she... was she... had she been... (gulp) dinner? Had they even gotten her all the way home? Or had she put up such a fight they finally just opened the door and tossed her out? And how long would it take for a little goose to walk home? And… and… well, what about the wild 4 leggeds? The fox… the coyote someone swears they spotted… wild dogs… to say nothing of the worst enemy of all, the 2 leggeds with firesticks, the hunters. Would they dare take a goose out of season? Even for those of us with PhDs in Worrying, the list of worst case scenarios was quite impressive. So we did the most sensible thing. We gave up. I mean, almost a month had gone by!
Well, OK, we did not really, totally, absolutely, completely give up hope… but we no longer mentioned Lucy to each other. Life went on. Minus the tapping on the window…
Then on Monday morning, as my friend’s boss drove up the long road to the office, he noticed a crooked neck goose waddling around the front yard of the building. “Can it be?” he said to himself. As he got out of his car, the little goose approached him honking softly in her talking voice telling him about her long, long journey back home. He hurried inside to get a bucket of corn as she tapped on the glass calling to him. In between bites of corn, she told her tale in her soft semi-honking manner she uses among friends.
Phones rang as the story of Lucy's miraculous return was passed from friend to friend. Smiles covered the shore, hearts skipped a beat as we all told each other we hadn't really ever given up hope. No, not really. Not totally... not deep in our hearts...
We all wonder how many miles she walked, how rough the terrain for a little goose that cannot fly, how she hid from those critters that might have done her harm, and how determined she must have been to have made it home. OK, OK, you say, I am anthropomorphizing a bit too much. Well, maybe… but the fact remains, Lucy made it home. It took her a month. I am sure she kept humming "I'll be home for Christmas" all the way - or the goosey equivalent... OK, roll your eyes, I don't care...
I am glad I did not have to clean out the cab of the truck they took her away in.