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The Geese Return

I can't remember if I've ever written the story about the geese in the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve. Or, more specifically, the story of being a runner trying to coexist with these geese when our paths collide. During the summer months, not a morning goes by without the geese congregating. In the pre-dawn hours of most days (save for winter), the cacophony of their honks and their squawks fill the local atmosphere. Most of the rest of the time, these fine-feathered Canadians gather in their gaggles and spend their days floating around the various bodies of water in the preserve. They're beautiful, and the landscapes in these parts wouldn't be the same without them.

The problem, however, arises when my friends the geese get things confused in their little bird minds and mistake my act of running for exercise to be something of an act of war. One day last summer I was running alongside the Erie Canal in the Vischer Ferry Nature Preserve - on a trail that bisects several bodies of water - and (literally) about fifty geese happened to congregate on the same trail about a quarter mile in front of me. I could have turned around and gone back the way I came, but that would have been a five mile run back home. To go straight, as planned, I would have been home in two miles. "They're just birds" I thought. 

As I approached the geese, about a third of them were on either side of the trail, in the water, while the rest of them were in the middle, walking toward me on the narrow piece of land that we shared. A couple of them locked eyes with me and started making a fuss. Hissing, flapping, yelping! I slowed my gait, and they started charging! I changed directions and started running the other way, eventually stopping to turn around and see ourselves in a total standoff. I clapped, yelled, and stomped my feet to no avail. They hissed more loudly and flapped their wings in a frenzy. I think I may have even heard a few of them laughing. Eventually, I had to take a fallen tree branch and carry it forward through the pack of them, swinging it left and right to intimidate them. Even then, they barely budged... they simply parted a tiny little bit (still yelping and huffing at me), creating a passage only wide enough for me to slink through. Waving my tree limb all around, I finally passed by the majority of them before breaking into a full-on sprint and heading home.

That was not the only time I tangled with the geese - they can get pretty excited! But I have to say that in the winter months, long after they've departed for warmer climes, I miss them. So recently, as the weather slowly creeps into the dawn of a new season, and flocks have gradually started returning to the area, it's been a welcome homecoming. Hopefully the next time we meet face-to-bill, they'll remember I mean them no harm.