Archive for June 2nd, 2010

The Crew

This is my new crew for this year. 

 It’s a family of Canadian Geese who’ve taken up residency in the general vicinity of our pond.  I say general vicinity because they split their time here and at a neighboring pond, waddling back and forth over the quarter of a mile or so through the woods.  It’s always a thrill to have them back here even though they pretty much monopolize the pond area and make it treacherous to walk with the prodigious amounts of waste they leave behind. 

 I’ve written before how interesting it is to watch the effort and care they take in parenting their young.  The parents are observant and protective and are always in teaching mode.  The two parents maintain separate posts to keep an eye on the young and are stern when any of them stray, quickly bringing them back to the group.  In a few weeks, after the soft down of the goslings is replaced with feathers, the teaching of how to take flight begins.  It’s one of my favorite things to observe these first tenuous take-offs with bellies skimming the water and wings flapping frantically.  It’s comically awkward but then suddenly the wings grab the air and they arc upward a bit and for a brief moment there is a sense of grace in their movement.  The excitement in the recognition of their new ability as they land that is obvious.

This year’s group initially started as the parents and 6 goslings but one day we found it had grown to 10 little guys.  The four newer ones were much smaller, obviously having been born at least a week or two earlier than the original group.  These four were probably orphaned or abandoned by parents who had been chased away away or killed by predators and had been adopted by this set of parents.  Apparently, this is quite common among geese.  From what we can observe, there is no difference in how the parents treat their own or the adopted goslings.  As they age, the size difference between the two groups of young becomes less noticeable with each passing day. 

It’s a funny thing.  I’ve created many paintings that have traveled around the world yet perhaps the greatest gratification I’ve achieved from anything I have made comes from our pond and the wildlife it sustains, such as this family.  It always fills me with a sense of hope for the larger world.

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