The campus that houses the office building where I work is home to Canadian Geese and one of the first signs of spring is the return of the geese to the area. Canadian Geese mate for life and, having observed their behavior in the spring, I am convinced they renew their vows to one another every year too.
After their arrival they swoop and fly two-by-two in romantic dances. Sometimes they get cranky at being disturbed in a quiet moment together and two of them will honk loudly and insistently at another who comes too close to their chosen courting spot. In a few weeks they will build a nest and lay eggs.
There is a man-made lake on one side of my office building and the geese frolic in the water and sun themselves on the grassy slopes next to the lake. In a few months the banks of the river will be alive with little goslings like a family picnic area for geese.
The other day, I was taking a break from work and walking when I spotted a lone goose on the meadow side of the building. He sat alone on the edge of an ivy-covered ledge gazing over the grassy plain. On my second lap around the building he was standing in the same place, one foot lifted and tucked, so he appeared from a distance to have only one leg; still gazing out over the meadow.
I couldn’t help but consider the reason why this goose might be alone on the meadow side of the building when the rest of the geese were frolicking on the lake side. Perhaps his life-long mate did not return with him from the south this year? Perhaps something had happened to her during their time away?
On my next lap around, the goose had hopped off of the ledge and was standing on the sidewalk looking in the window of the office. Is he lonely? I wondered. Is he looking for company? I felt sorry for him.
I returned to work but for the rest of the afternoon I was unable to get the goose out of my mind; a few hours later I had to go and check on him.
He was still there, alone, looking toward the window of the office building. There was something about his demeanor that made me want to go out and pat his head, put my arms around his slender neck and give him a hug to comfort him. I wanted to take him home with me. Silly, I chided myself. Yet I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
Later that evening I was compelled to Google the Canada Goose and learned one of the reasons a goose might be alone and separated from his flock is because he is mourning the loss of a mate. He needs time to process the loss before returning to his flock where perhaps (I hope) he will meet female goose who has also been left alone and together they will form a new family.
Despite the melancholy that fell over me as I considered the fate of this Canada Goose, I was pleased that I had allowed myself to slow down enough to step out of a routine day to consider his situation. It’s not the deadlines and projects that give my life meaning; it’s not accomplishments and accolades that fulfill me.
It’s the simplicity of taking time to observe a Canada Goose sitting alone on a ledge gazing out over a meadow that make my life rich.