The Quints

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The geese have quints.  After several weeks on the nest, mom now sits under her babies, who love to nestle in the fold between her wing and back.  It makes her less than nimble as she tries to get up to answer the warning call of her mate, who has detected an intruder on the pond. But, after shaking the little balls of yellow fluff off her back, and then helping them get upright in the soft mud, she was able to lead them into the channel between our backyard ponds, where her mate landed to be their protection.

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Beauty in the Wind

ImageCancer surgeries and the lousy weather have curtailed outdoor activities for me this winter.  What little time I am outdoors is usually either shoveling or quick jogs to get the mail, take out the trash or shake out my rugs and linens. 

It was the latter activity that had me out on the deck overlooking the pond on Sunday after dinner. I was grumbling. I had spent the better part of the day in the kitchen, cooking and then cleaning, while my family enjoyed their Sabbath rest.  As I stepped outside, the wind was brisk and the air was pregnant with the promise of at least one more Monday morning snowstorm.  Sighing, I lowered my head and kicked at the ice on the deck. (Didn’t I just chop that all away a few days ago?) Spring was a long time away.

I heard them before I saw them. “Honk!  Honk!” and the rush of wings on the wind.  They cast a shadow across the deck as they came in low; maybe checking the pond behind our house for a landing spot?   Muttering “Crazy geese, your nesting spots are still all frozen,” I looked skyward. 

A long, black beak, beautiful white body; the incomparable nasal horn-like call.  They weren’t Canada geese at all, but a trio of stunningly beautiful trumpeter swans. Their cries echoed across the frozen water as they rose above the trees and turned to the northwest, into the wind and the approaching late winter storm.

Poop happens!

Our park-like backyard is a wildlife sanctuary today.  After many days of rain (about 6 inches in May and it’s only the 10th of the month), the sun is shining and the butterflies are flitting through the azaleas.  The cardinals are calling, the turtles are sunning on the trunk of the downed aspen in the pond, the frogs are croaking in the marsh and our resident toad is answering back from under the hot tub cover.  The female hooded merganser just swam by with 8 little balls of brown and yellow fluff and a great blue heron is dining on minnows.

While I was planting my geraniums, I was overjoyed to see a Canada goose, his gander and 16 (yes, 16!) babies were helping me trim the lawn.  I grabbed my camera and they let me get quite close for a photo, and that’s what I relearned something I forget every spring until it’s too late.

When there are geese around, poop happens.  Lots and lots of poop with 16 little ones.

I contemplated a poop scoop party until I remembered it is supposed to rain tomorrow. The other thing I have learned about geese poop is that it is not very durable.  A good rain will wash it away.

So, today we’ll thank God for the sunshine and for our gaggle of goslings and brood of mergansers.

Tomorrow, we will thank God for the rain.  Even when it comes in over-abundance.