Imagine that you're fully engrossed in a wonderful movie on television, and you're only moments away from what promises to be a wonderfully climactic ending. The phone rings and you know you have to take that call. You don't have a PVR. The movie is not available for rental or upload. You missed the ending. Sure, other folks could tell you what happened. In fact, you might have even guessed the conclusion but you really wanted to see it play out on the screen.
Enter, Veronica. She's my son Alex's girlfriend who has recently bought a camera because of her renewed interest in photography. Veronica became my PVR, a short while back when she photographed the conclusion of a tender little tale which had been playing out by the pond over the previous few weeks.
This photo was taken in April. Our pond is host to dozens of Canada geese through the course of the year but many of them head further north as the warmer weather comes along. This lovely female and her mate took up residence in a mostly-hidden area along the shore. She's about four feet below my vantage point, at the bottom of a rocky, sloped embankment. You can see some of the ground fencing used to protect against erosion in the foreground.
Nest-building, egg-laying and sitting is exhausting work. Mama Goose did a lot of napping. She pretty much stayed in the same spot all day, sleeping or glancing a wary eye my way, whenever I stopped by to visit her - which was often. Before too long, I believe she came to recognize me and understood that I wasn't a threat to her nest - even when I had Benny with me.
I know this because despite my presence, she would occasionally step off of the nest to stretch, count her eggs (I see five) and attend to her grooming.
Papa Goose, on the other hand, wasn't always quite as trusting. I never saw him hang out close to the nest, but he was always nearby. Some days, he would allow me to get really close to him and he'd pose smartly for the camera. I've witnessed others hand-feeding him, on occasion. Other times, he would decide to strut his stuff. He'd lift his wings, making him appear twice his size, and make his way up the walkway, hissing and charging at everyone who walked by. He did that to Benny and me, one day and we had to take a small detour in order to avoid aggravating him further. You can't blame him for wanting to protect his family.
Some days were particularly hot and Mama Goose would sit with her bum raised above the eggs, allowing the air to flow beneath her so that the eggs would not get overheated. Her mouth remained agape so that she could keep as cool as possible.
One day, I spotted Mama rearranging her nest. Eggs which were on the perimeter of the nest were now being tucked in toward the middle with her bill. She resumed sitting once they were all where she wanted them.
Every now and then, Mama Goose could be seen plucking her breast feathers. I'd never given much thought to the expression "feathering your nest" before but that's exactly what she was doing, in preparation for a mini excursion into the pond.
She expertly covered each and every inch of her exposed eggs, making sure they kept warm. This also helped to camouflage the nest from predators.
A cool, refreshing dip in the pond revitalizes a tired Mama.
And this is where "the end" of this tale took me. I knew the eggs would be ready to hatch soon (particularly after Papa Goose gave me such a hard time) but I was heading off to Frank's for about a week. I knew I would miss the goslings.
But this is where Veronica comes in. She went out each day to see if Mama was still sitting on her nest. The first couple of times, she was. Then I got a text from Veronica telling me that the nest was empty and that she and Alex were in search of the family. They soon found them at the opposite end of the pond. Four of the five goslings had hatched successfully. Mama and Papa hid them amid the tall grass but you should have no trouble finding all four in this image which Veronica snapped for me.
By the time I got back from Frank's place they had all moved on elsewhere. I'm glad that Veronica was able to capture a few images of these little sweeties or I'd never know for sure that they did alright.
It's my understanding that geese often come back to their place of birth to mate and nest. Maybe next year, another generation of this family will emerge.
Thanks for indulging me in my own Tale of Mother Goose.