Wild Barnyard of Geese

The hike starts with a strange sound heard in a familiar place. An angry little sound, hawk like, breaks the silence of morning followed quickly by that of a song bird. The thick forest hides both singers so we move up river. Afterwards I stop often to listen for more bird song but only hear Aki’s paw-falls on the crusty snow.

This morning’s low sun backlights the moss covering the big spruce and cottonwoods lining the trail making the moss grow with yellow green tones. I try again to capture a tenth of the beauty with my camera and fail. The place rewards physical, not virtual visitors.  

Leaving the boreal forest for a muskeg meadow we begin to hear the geese. We have been through this before — hearing a big flock of Canada Geese from this meadow but never seeing them when we reach the beach.  Today, the sound stirs Aki to explode down the trail. I find out why when we reach the river with its big meadow covered with geese.

Aki has driven at least one bear up a tree but has never before acknowledged the presence of waterfowl. Even today, when they strut openly on the dead grass land and shout out random warnings, Aki acts as if they do not exist. I see this as a sign of sensible caution, not arrogance.  Our mere presence, a couple of hundred yards away, seems to set the geese on edge so we keep our distance. Downriver a ringing geese alarm sounds, something like the amplified dithering of the Three Stooges, and a set of geese flies overhead. This is repeated several times — the die hard feeders being driven off their sand bars by a flooding tide.

Soon the meadow becomes an untidy barnyard of geese, heads down, looking for a meal. Above them snow whitened mountains rise into a darkening sky. Then it begins to snow.     

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