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Magnetic North: The Merry Month of Mud

Canada Goose
Canada Goose

Welcome back to Magnetic North, where spring rains brought back many sights and sounds missing for the past seven months. The bedrock along the highway weeps profusely. Spring peepers sing their little hearts out at dusk. And marsh marigolds splash Day-Glo yellow color along streams, rivers and lowly ditches.
So who cares if there be a little mud along with these treasures? Just feeling the ground give a little underfoot sends shivers of delight through me. And the smell of soil? Sheer perfume that feeds the soul and imagination and makes little chores like cleaning out the chicken coop and rabbit shed bearable.
Spring feeds us in so many ways. Not the least of which is the edible green stuff popping up all over. My goats are on the meadow again. So no more store-bought hay for me until October. I’m sure they like the fresh stuff better anyway, as do the whitetail deer. Often goats and deer feed side by each, keeping a respectful species-aware distance.  With several acres of meadow, there is enough for all. And, so far at least, neither deer nor goat shows any territorial belligerence over the free food.
That makes me wonder how I ‘d react if people, even people I knew, began dropping by and pulling up MY nettles for their soups and quiches and MY fiddlehead ferns for their stir fry.  Oh MY! I couldn’t very well do what I did with my two voracious woodchucks - trap them in Havahart traps and relocate them on a back road miles from human habitation. This isn’t Texas after all.
My mind does take odd paths with these first heady breaths of spring air - concocting laugh-out-loud scenarios as I wander, forgetting what I’ve come outside to do, my eye falling on the first dandelion leaves, or the first wild duck or goose on the pond.
Just this week I happened to see a trio of Canada geese paddling around down there, a rest stop on their way to a better nesting place. And I am glad it is just a stopover, because the little pond is deceptively risky for waterfowl in search of a home. Hundreds of acres of intermittent streams run into it, according to a government survey. One good rain and nests can and will be washed away - baby birds and all. So, as much as I love see the three new arrivals, I was happy to see them move on.
That brings me to a fun bit of writing called Lessons from Geese. It was given to me by my friend, Val McFarland, a fellow Canada Goose fanatic. Far from anthropomorphizing the bird, it nudges us humans to imagine how better our lives might be if we took a page from the wild goose book. 

Here it is, with my own somewhat snarky comments attached.
Lessons from Geese

First: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird that follows. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.  My take? The tradeoff is taking longer to get where you want, but doing so without constant honking in your ears and wings slapping you on your beak is okay.

Second: When a goose falls out of formation the lifting power of the bird ahead of him or her disappears and it experiences the full drag and resistance of staying aloft alone. Reminds me of that old country tune, “Love Lifts You Up Where You Belong.” 
Third: When the leader tires she or he instinctively rotates back into formation allowing another goose to fly point. My thing? We just grab a tall Latte with extra shots.
Fourth (and this one is disputed by some): Geese honk when flying in formation as encouragement to each other. My opinion? That's just like New York City cabbies “encouraging“ each other the same way.
Fifth: Two geese drop out of formation and land to help and protect any one of their flock that gets sick or tired or, worse yet, shot. I’ve seen this and it IS wondrous. Semper Fi? Leave no goose behind? Whatever the basis for it, you have to admire the act.
So most of the above Lessons are believable, and even laudable. But how to tell self-interest from altruism?  Mere wings do not an angel make. Just as sharing the meadow grass with deer does not mean goats are less greedy than people. It may simply mean that they are too busy eating to notice they have company. Or they are too wussy to defend their territory. Or, maybe it means exactly nothing.
And on that note, I’m off to make the most of MY mud season before the bugs come out.

(Photo by Davide Simonetti on Flickr)