My first remembered adventure with geese was at University. The University of York has several small lakes. I was in Wentworth College where the residential halls were right next to a lake. We had a huge population of geese there. They were quite aggressive to people. I have been known to try to go out of my usual door, see a gaggle of geese in the pathway, go back in and walk the length of the building to try the other door. The geese would have moved over to that door, and I would go back the length of the residential halls and try the first door again. One of my friends got attacked by the geese. They got hold of his trouser leg and tried to pull him along and into the lake. Scary things, these Yorkshire geese …..
Then there were the geese at a park in Portsmouth. I had taken my little boy to the park whilst his sister was at an activity. My boy was quite taken by the swans around the pond there and as he approached them, both the geese and the swans turned around and started chasing him into the water! There were the geese at the local duck pond in Priorslee in Telford. They were always at the same spot. The kids and I use to walk around the pond and feed the ducks. Yep, you’ve guessed it. At that certain spot, the geese either blocked the path, messed up the path so their business got all over the pushchair wheels and the shoes, or started to hiss at us. With the prior experiences of being haggled by the geese, this was very intimidating and I had to protect my little ones.
British wildfowl are very intelligent. I noticed their intelligence when my parents took my sister and I to the Peter Scott’s Wildfowl Park near Rutland with my uncle, aunt and little cousins when I was in my early teens. Inside the sanctuary, there were many caged areas for the birds. The fenced in areas were not enclosed at the top so that the birds would come and go. In each of the caged areas, there were signs identifying the birds and giving a little information about them. I looked at my mum and dad and asked them the question: “So there are these signs in these caged in areas. The birds come and go. How do they know how to get back into the right cages?” You can imagine the look on their faces. Perceiving that they didn’t know the answer, I said: “I know why”. Now intrigued that I had an answer, they asked “Why?” Smiling briefly at them, I retorted: “They can read of course!”
Arriving in Minnesota before the autumn, I found that geese were a very popular species. However, unlike the birds at Peter Scott’s Wildlife Park near Rutland, England, they couldn’t read and had problems identifying which were the places for geese and which were residential housing. So it was not uncommon to see geese on your front lawn or to discover that they had been there by what they had left behind. When they left a lot of stuff behind them, as they tend to defecate up to ninety-two times a day, the Minnesotans would say that they had been ‘geesed’!
Every fall, before the chilling winter would come, you would hear the loud incessant honking of the geese as they straddled the sky in a skein or a wedge on their flight to warmer climes. Then when summer came (there doesn’t appear to be a spring in Minnesota – just winter, winter, summer, blink your eyes – autumn, winter), they came honking back.
One Saturday in the summer, we came back from shopping. I took our little cocker spaniel outside to relieve herself. Rushing back into the house after she was done, I shouted out to my husband: “Oh no! We’ve been geesed! And it is REALLY bad! Like it is everywhere on the grass and it’s really dense!”
My native born, Minnesotan husband, rushed out armed with our dog ‘pooper scooper’ and a bucket with a plastic bag in it. He is wonderful and so diligent to clear up after the dog and now the geese. He’d been out there about an hour and a half and had one more section to go, when a nosey neighbor pulled over her car, rolled down the window and called out in a loud voice: “What’re you doing?” (Read that with your Swedish or Norwegian accent – and you can hear the Minnesotans’ dialect). My husband, being a friendly man, let the lady know that we had been geesed. The kind neighbour then said that she had been watching him for about an hour and wondered what he was doing. “I don’t think you’ve been geesed”, she said, “The landscaping people just aerated our lawns!”
I don’t know where we have lived all our lives, but we didn’t know about aerating lawns. Both in Minnesota and in Utah we lived in a town house. A town house in America is like a terraced house in England. The house in Minnesota was a quad town home which means that there are four houses in the unit. Two strung together back onto the other two that are strung together. In Utah we are an end terraced house. Both types of housing belong to an HOA (Home Owners Association) and we have to pay monthly dues which also cover the gardening and the snow removal. The gardeners (or the landscaping people) aerate the lawn by digging small holes in the grass. They leave the amount that comes out of the little holes on the top of the lawn. They look like poop! We just had our lawn aerated here in Utah,and when I always see that, I think about the time in Minnesota when we were geesed!