A Mother’s Day Tale on the Greenway

This morning, like most Sunday mornings, I woke up and took Juno for a run.  Nicole and I are fortunate enough to live near a public greenway that offers more space to run than my body could ever endure.  On Sunday mornings, it is quiet–deserted save for the few lunatics like myself and the animals that wander out fearlessly before the foot traffic becomes heavy.

We’ve lived here long enough that I’ve been able to note the cycles of nature as the year progresses.  It’s May, and for the last few months I’ve seen baby goslings grow from bobbling babies to awkward adolescents.  Juno is very interested in them.  I’m sure if I didn’t have her tethered on the end of a leash, she would go and introduce herself to them, a fact that Mama Goose always seems to recognize with a hiss as the entire flock makes its way into the safety of the middle of the lake.

Today, however, we caught a Mama Goose and two adolescents unawares, far from the safety of the lake.  Juno, as she always does when she sees other animals, crouched low in her husky hunter pose and pulled harder on the leash.  The geese were in no place to hide, caught between the greenway on the right and a tree-lined creek–sped by last night’s storms–on the left.

For the adult goose, this would’ve been an easy getaway–flap your wings and fly away.  The goslings, however, seemed not quite ready to fly.  And as I slowed Juno a little to let the geese get away, I got the impression that Mama Goose was exhorting the kids, that if ever there were a time to utilize their avian evolutionary advantage, this would be the time.  They would never outrun the dog, but if they could break free of their training wheels, they would be free.  The goslings ran awkwardly, trying to break the air with their underdeveloped wings, hobbling down the greenway.

The goslings never flew, and the Mama Goose looked tempted to fly, but never did, running behind until they found an opening where the creek had slowed to a pool where they could be safe.  We left them to their safety and head on through the lush morning woods, feeling all the world like a rainforest.

It seemed a sweet interaction with the life of the woods on the day that we humans have designated to celebrate mothers.  I’d like to say there’s some big takeaway here, but it was nothing more than a passing fancy at the maternal instinct in animals and the reminder of how we have all been awkward and needed protection, needed prodding, needed maybe one more day for our wings to develop so we could get off the ground.  With as much time as I spend in walled rooms or in the safety of my car, I’m grateful to have an open space and the health to run so I can be a part of this little interaction of life in my back yard.

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