Wednesday, June 30, 2010

cheering from the shore

Sun drenched ducks on southern ponds sense the arrival of spring in the north. This past April, like migrating mallards, we sniffed the air and headed north to Dutch Lake. There was still plenty of snow on Raft Mountain, the defining landmark of the area. It's mirror image lay perfectly reflected on the still surface of the lake. Several pairs of Canadian geese were leading their newly hatched goslings through the lilies at the shoreline. The babies swam with their watchful parents, first in a tight bunch, and then breaking into a long wavering line behind them. The sun caught the fluffy tips of their feathers and made them glowing balls of yellow. The flock came ashore to graze, the goslings hurrying over the pebbles, large webbed feet reminding me of boots too big, borrowed from older brothers and sisters. The families mingled on the shore, but when parents called, their own little ones magically separated, and followed them back onto the lake. I was just pondering the ease with which geese parent, when I spotted a tiny gosling make a solitary dash to the water's edge. It flapped its stubby little wings and began cheeping frantically. It briefly considered setting out alone on the water and then paddled back onto the sandy shore, cheeping plaintively all the while. It had one thing right, its family had left by water, but they had come to shore further up the beach and had circled back. Its mother now honked encouragingly and the tiny gosling, turned and made a dash. The other parents hissed unkindly, as it stumbled and flapped past. It didn't look for an easy route up the little knoll to where its siblings calmly grazed, but cheeped and flapped and struggled, straight up through the underbrush. Its mother rolled her eyes and helped it up the last difficult bit. I'd been cheering for the gosling, but I should have cheered for the parents I think, for all parents in fact, in recognition of their watchfulness, patience and encouragement.

No comments: