by Jane Bleam
It was common to see geese swimming close to shore along the Delaware River where my summer cottage was located. Sometimes they were looking for small minnows to eat. Other times they hunted for stale bread that people would throw them. Interestingly, they would struggle over which would receive the piece of bread that was thrown.
One sunny afternoon as I was lazing about reading, I noticed a flock of geese swimming noisily around my dock. One pair of Canada geese, in particular, was hovering near a small gosling as if they were protecting the youngster. The gosling was anxiously flapping his wings as if in distress.
Curious, I ran down the steps to the dock to get a closer look and immediately upset the parents. Their gosling was tangled in an abandoned fishing line. I ran to get a pair of scissors to try to free the gosling.
As I cautiously and quietly approached the struggling gosling, I knew the male goose might attack me, even though I was trying my best to free flapping gosling. The entire concerned group of geese were only a few feet away and very uneasy. They were honking and flapping their wings. Their tension made me more on my guard, but gradually, all the geese must have realized that I was trying to free the baby. When the goslings’ parents were calmer the rest of the geese became more relaxed too.
When I waded into the water to free the gosling, he appeared frightened, squirmed, and attempted to peck my hands. His parents were uneasy with my activity too, but I talked calmly to them and the gosling. A few minutes after snipping at the nylon line around his legs and feet, even the gosling seemed to recognize that I meant him no harm.
Gradually the fishing line was freed from his legs and feet. He splashed happily toward his parents who nuzzled and poked and prodded him as if to check him out. The gosling’s parents gave me a pleased look for freeing their baby.
I withdrew from this now joyous family reunion and retreated back up the steps to my front porch. With a much calmer mood, the geese flock resumed its journey down the river with its gosling encircled protectively in its midst. After seeing the geese’s reunion, I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and feet.
Laura Jane Michie-Bleam is a retired Professor Emerita of Nursing at Montgomery County College in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, who served the college for thirty-two years. She traveled extensively, and was often required to write or speak to groups about her travels. Her interest in children led her to take writing courses from the Institute of Children’s Literature.