As our world passed through Mid-Summer, the family prospered. They looked much more like a flock and less like the babies they actually were, at only two months old. The day was coming when they would fly off and join the family groups that live in this area, having been sheltered in this home nesting area.
With Mama generally leading the way and Papa bringing up the rear, the Goslings were still well protected. They’ll stay with Mama and Papa for a year, all told, most of it away from us. The only way we’ll see them again is if they join Mama and Papa the following February for a few days, which often happens.
Every February, there will be a week or so when various numbers of Canada Geese are here. This is likely the previous year’s entire surviving family, come back for a visit, as often happens when the parents return to the breeding area.
One by one, the now fully Juvenile males will fly off to join other Juvenile males that have not yet mated. Slowly, the number of Canada Geese on the ponds will dwindle, until only Mama and Papa, are left with one, perhaps two others. These are the Juvenile females that have survived from last year. They are with us often for the entire season.
None of the Goslings will mate until they are a bit older; around three. In the meantime, the Juvenile females can help Mama and Papa, even if only to give Mama a break from the nest, and help intimidate predators. They are not encouraged to get too close to the newest members of the family, however, and will be chased off if they do.
I have to admit that as I thought on their transition, I pondered my own transitions over the past few years. All of them to do with health, mine or ours. Being both care giver and patient. In an odd way, Lockdown gave us permission to breathe, to stop.
On June 28, as I sat at my window, I saw one of the funniest things. Papa did a fabulous wing stretch. Seems he got something started because in behind him, one of the Goslings followed suit. Irritating everyone around him, resulting in a retaliatory wing strike. Honestly, it was fast devolving into a squabble of wings, when Mama, who had been feeding quietly, off to one side, stepped in. Whatever she grunted at them after her display, calmed things down. I had the distinct sense, however, that Papa found himself blamed when he looked directly at me, across the lawn, in my window.
An hour later, the sun was back and tempers were less evident.
June 29, things felt odd. Just a year ago, we were on a visit to Cornwall with some friends, and were anticipating our Canada Day BBQ. Now, we just kind of ambled along. The Goslings kept eating; I took photos of the flowers in my garden.
The Crows still came around, but I got the sense it was almost a social visit. Papa was totally chill. Didn’t stop him making sure as the Crow flew off, though.
June 30 saw more wing action from the Goslings. This spontaneous sort of outburst happened a fair bit with this family. More than I recalled from previous years. I didn’t see as many of the Wing Training runs, but the stretching was brilliant! And such fun to watch, as it became clear they were having something of a competition. Whether it was to see who could be most beautiful or whether it was to see who could be more irritating depended, I think, on which end of the stretch you were on.
And so July 1 arrived … the Goslings were ten weeks old. They were strong, all of them. Usually there’s one that lags a bit, tires more easily, but not this year. This year, there was confidence and cockiness, and they were so beautiful.
We knew that in a few weeks, they’d be gone; although, we disagreed about how quickly. I sensed we didn’t have much more time, a couple of weeks at most, before they would fly off to wherever they went every year.
We wouldn’t be flying off. As July 18 and the promised end of lockdown neared, we prepared to hunker down. The NHS had advised that my sweetheart remain shielded, but we’d come to that conclusion, on our own. The news was not encouraging.
With my follow-up occurring within the week, we at least would know for certain what I was dealing with. I had suspected for some time, but this would confirm it and get me proper treatment. I prepared to soldier on, with my sweetheart at my side, soldiering on along himself.
In the meantime, we had the family and that gave me plenty of distraction as we all prepared to transition to whatever the coming weeks would bring.