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Floral notes: Oh, Canada

Community Columnist

The only word a goose can articulate is a hiss, which has to be interpreted much like a Hawaiians “Aloha.” Old ‘Granddad’ is the spokesgoose for the group. I tell folks it can mean “hi,” “please,” “thank you” or “back off.”

Consider it a warning first, but the only time I’ve been “goosed” was when I didn’t get their corn fast enough. It was a bold baby and when confronted, he trembled with fear — or hungry anticipation!

At Emerald Pond an old deck is where I feed more than 500 goldfish at the end of the day, then continue over a low bridge and dump the last load of compostables. One day, behind me I heard the pitter-patter of webbed feet over the bridge behind me as the family trooped to the pond bank after dining. Watching in delight, they performed a delicate ballet of dipping beaks, one long neck after another in a perfect wave.

When geese feed on dry corn they must have to drink to get it down to their crops, but this is a learned behavior. The first time I fed some goslings, the gander went to each one with his head dipping to the ground and then up. I didn’t grasp the meaning of this new display until a minute later when he proudly watched them at the waters edge, mimicking his movement.

Whatever is happening, the males are on guard. They and the females bookend the goslings to protect them from danger. We live on Route 13 South, and for a change of scenery, everyone decamps to the pond across the road and closer to the village. Perhaps that’s the vacation home.

To prevent the parents from abandoning the young who can’t fly, geese lose their flight feathers over the two months it takes for the young to mature. This means they walk across the highway to the other pond.

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