Month Two, Week Three

This post, and admittedly all the other posts in this series, has a large number of photos. I can almost hear all of you thinking, “Gee, do ya think?!” by the way.

Here’s the thing: If you click on the first photo in each gallery, you can cycle through them. The photos are meant to be viewed one after the other, rather like a diorama, to give the effect of animation. I’ve gone this route to try to illustrate the movement of the Goslings and their excitement as they interact with one another, their surroundings, and with us.

There have been rather large changes in the editing programme on WordPress over the past couple of years. While up until now, I’ve been able to continue in the old programme and avoid this, now they’ve pushed us all onto the new way. I’m having a lot of trouble with some of the changes and how they work. I’ll figure it out. I always do. Please bear with me, in the meantime.

June 7 – As the Solstice drew closer, the days were becoming wonderfully long. Although the sun doesn’t technically rise until around 04:45 or so, the morning sky begins to brighten closer to 02:30. By three, it’s pretty bright and the birds have started their morning songs. And although technically, sunset is closer to 9:30 in the evening, the sky is still quite bright until about 11:30. Where I grew up, in southern Ontario, I thought the summer days had been long, but they were several hours shorter than here and what a miracle that is!

“This is the sun we bank during the Dark Ages,” my sweetheart says, and don’t we love them.

Dark Ages days, by the way, are commensurately shorter here than in my native southern Ontario. I hit SADS, a state I don’t generally reach until about February in Canada, in November the first year we were here. No exaggeration.

Then I compared sunrise and sunset times between the two sides of the Pond and realised how much further north I truly was — the Midlands are at 52.3 degrees north; Toronto is at 43.65. That makes a huge difference in terms of daylight and it hits home in November.

But now, it was June 8 and the days were gloriously long. Normally, we would have been preparing to host a Canada Day BBQ for our friends, here, making them all Honourary Canadians for a day. It’s a celebration we look forward to each year.

This year, we weren’t holding it, of course. Part of me missed the ‘press and stressure’ to get the garden just so and the house just right. Trying to get our Canadian flag suspended from the eaves. Planning the menu and purchasing ingredients for my sweetheart’s Teriyaki Baseballs and World Famous Chicken Wings, Mum’s Cabbage Salad and my Potato Salad.

This year, no such planning.

It was so peaceful. Just us and the Canadians.

The photos in the following gallery were taken beginning at 7:02 pm, with the last taken at 7:06:22. These are just some of the shots I took in this session. There are dozens of them. I never know whether any will turn out at all when they’re running, so I take as many as possible, adjusting focus as they run. I use manual focus. It gets interesting.

And then I saw the Two Always Together (in the next gallery) feeding on seed from the Man after he’d left, their necks almost intertwined and just about long enough to do it!

June 10 arrived and they just kept getting more delightful to watch. I still had a month to wait for the results of my tests and was feeling increasingly awful, physically, with a corresponding decrease in my energy levels and outlook. My sweetheart hadn’t been well, either, for some time. It got difficult, at times.

The Goslings always lightened our days. It didn’t matter that my gut was in knots when I looked at them; they were a balm that soothed and took me out of myself. And the increase in intimacy and trust between Papa and my sweetheart, which after nine years was already quite something, was wonderful to watch.

While I struggled to create, their curiosity and joie de vivre made it impossible for me to dwell on how I felt. Distraction is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Through June, the one thing that kept me recording and working on my music, was the little ones. The lightening of my mood made me able to focus. As they lifted me out of myself, my desire to sing returned for a while and I could record a song, when moments before my throat had been closing with emotion.

As I look at the photos, it is clear to me that they are communicating and interacting, at this age like a bunch of teenagers. It really is far too easy to anthropomorphize them.

And then I witnessed a Gosling Insurrection, allowed, if not abetted, by Papa.

It started out innocently enough. The Man With the Seed came that afternoon. The whole family took part, with Mama insisting on her fair share right along with Papa. Even one of the Goslings was emboldened to demand seed directly of The Man.

Finally, Mama decided it was time to go. A little reluctantly, with a few fits and starts, the Goslings followed; Papa, even more reluctantly, followed along after.

Finally, Mama got the Goslings to leave the seed. They had made it almost half way over to the pond, when some of the Goslings decided a rest was in order.

That’s when it happened. It was all I could do to keep up with my camera over the next, give or take, three and a half minutes.

I was laughing so hard by the end of that little scene, I had trouble keeping the camera still. Mama’s indignant march back to the recalcitrant Goslings, not to mention their father, just about broke me. Her displeasure is as clear in the photo as it was that afternoon as she stalked toward them.

June 12 – it poured with rain for most of the day. Rather matched my mood. I don’t think I’d ever seen the Goslings quite this wet, before. When they came for their afternoon feed under my window, as usual, I took one look at their sodden feathers and had to drop everything to get some shots.

OK. I admit. I do that anyway.

June 13 – As the rest of the country looked forward to lockdown easing in July, making holiday plans and party plans, plans for a pint and plans for a coffee, we went back and forth on it. One day we’d think a picnic in the park might be nice when lockdown was eased; the next day, our minds would change based on R numbers and other information. With my sweetheart being shielded and me, as his carer, not well, the risks were too great.

Oblivious to it all, the family continued to grow and mature. Pandemic and lockdown meant nothing to them except, perhaps, cleaner air. And the air was incredibly sweet. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the like, before. Of course, I’ve never experienced our world without car fumes, before. And neither have our friends, the Canadians, when you think about it.

Later that afternoon, about 5:30, The Man With the Seed arrived again. Today, they went to him at a much less frantic, more subdued, quickish walk. I had the feeling Mama had had speaks with Papa. She actually hung back, this time. Papa, however, shamelessly had his fair share. In the end, to smooth ruffled feathers, the Man threw some seed extra far, to where Mama could reach it. I like to think she took part with a humph.

Although there was no rebellious run, this time, there was an awful lot of seed left on that lawn. An hour later, after their early evening feed under my window, they went back for dessert. It’s quite something listening to them, as they eat. The ripping of grass, little grunts and squeaks emanating from the Goslings, the odd much lower, quiet honk from Mama or Papa … listening as I hang out the window, at times a bare 18 inches away, taking pictures and talking to them, I find it humbling that Mama and Papa trust me enough to allow this. Mama, well, she’s younger and still maturing, a little more unsure, but Papa knows. And he’s fine with me. And that is really neat.

We worried at times that this might backfire, that the Goslings would come to trust humans, too much, that we were interfering too much. Our comfort was that there were other humans on the property and the family did not go to them, ever. Mama and Papa, while they seemed to understand that these humans belonged here, too, also didn’t fully trust them. Mama and Papa always ushered the Goslings toward the pond when those humans got too close; not always into it, but toward it, keeping themselves between the humans and the Goslings. They knew the difference, which meant the Goslings would learn it, too.

June 14 – We were coming into the longest days of summer, when shadows at noon are short, and there had been a real change in the Goslings. Their feathers were much darker and the scruffy Mop Top down would soon be a thing of the past. Their personalities and individuality, however, remained the same.

It started as the usual post-swim walk/nosh and rest moment. Look how perfectly they’ve lined themselves up along the drive. The photos in the following two galleries were taken over a period of about six minutes. It’s like they knew they were posing for me.

It wasn’t until I developed the photos that I realised what I had. The perfect Bob Fosse moment. The Baryshnigoose wasn’t good enough for the Movie Star. No siree, Bob. She had the Fosse touch.

The Goslings had been enthralling us for a little over seven weeks by now, making life more bearable, a little more fun. Sometimes, they would still curl up like little baby goslings together, but that happened less frequently now.

In ten days, the Goslings would be two months old. Their wings would be stronger and they would do more training runs. But for now, they were still mostly teen-aged and young. Needing some protection still, learning about the world and how to thrive in it, getting ready to live life on their terms.

As our world remained closed, oddly silent, hushed, we went about life. Building a future, trying to get healthy, working to stay positive, just like everyone else we knew. Just like everyone else. What we had, our saving grace, was the Canadians.

They’re back, by the way. Got here in mid-February. Eight of them showed up and stayed a few days. Now, Mama and Papa are on their own and we’ve had visits. No other Canada Geese on the planet would come to my sweetheart for seeds, but they have. We’re certain it is them. Papa’s tail feathers are still wrong.

There might be a third, juvenile, goose, this year, but I’m not yet certain. This morning there was a set-to on the lawn because another pair landed. Mama and Papa made it clear that this was their pond and those other geese cleared out, but quick.

The world is still in lockdown. We had a feeling it would be, last summer as we spent time with the Canadians. Their return is proof that while our lives are on hold, the rest of the world is moving forward as normal. And that is comforting.

The other day, when the pup and I walked around the pond with some seed while Mama and Papa were on the lawn, slowly, as I threw handfuls into the water, they came to me. And it was Mama led the way through the Daffodils, down into the pond. When I left, she was contentedly and delicately taking seed from the surface, while Papa remained on shore, watching. I think she’s with egg.

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