I count hanging out the laundry among my myriad blessings for it gives me a chance to stop and see and hear the world around me.
An oriole answers the demands of its young. I recognize its PRETTY BOY, PRETTY BOY call though haven't seen one in weeks. Other birds, and many young, fill the air with a pleasant cacophony.
I catch the brilliance of a butterfly as it wafts its way along. The grass is thick and growing (too fast, he says, and I sympathize). Flowers bloom everywhere, delighting my eye from the stark white of the columbine to the mind-boggling pink of the eight-foot-high bank of rhododendron. (The helicopter is an unnatural interruption. I remember 2004.)
The goslings, hatched in early May, are huge by now large chicken size, I describe them, thinking of the meal I'd never want. Hector and his twin have become a totally accepted part of what is now a family of eight. The first family holds steady at five though more and more of the time I count them as four adults and thirteen young ones. They have melded well. I see no jealousy among the youngsters or their parents.
Two to four mallards would like to join the group and come as eagerly, as often as not, when the corn line is open. I laughed watching one mallard and one of the large goslings arguing over a single pile of cracked corn. The mallard would take a bite and the big bird would snap at it. This seemed a reasonable game until the duck apparently pushed a little too hard. The gosling won that round.
All have grown accustomed to me, to the yard, to the food, yes, even to the retrievers. They don't take note any more when Minor races back up the drive with the morning OBSERVER. It's been a while since he chased the geese for sport (the heron remains his main nemesis). In fact, the geese don't go far when he races obliviously right through the herd on his way to a more distant quarry be it the great blue, a deer, or something he alone can see. After a number of wonderful years with the geese around, I can almost tell the season by their size.
Surprise then to look out on the very last day of May to see two adult geese approaching with five yellow balls of fluff between them. None has ever hatched this late before. In fact, I can guess they were conceived about the time the others hatched, leading to some amusing observations of my own.
These are indeed youngsters. I watch in wide-eyed amusement as one adult waits in the water, the other on land, as the five try over and over to scale what to them must seem the unconquerable height it turns out to be. I can guess at the growing frustration of the parents as all good efforts prove fruitless. Finally both adults join the kids back in the water and lead their charges around the island in search of a more accommodating landing site.
I'm pleased, minutes later, to realize one has been located. All five tiny babes join their parents in safety on land.
These do remain almost premature in behavior for, even on the second day, one seems unable to scale the shore and reaches his feeding family only later by what seems a rather obvious ascent.
May is a month of miracles. I await those to follow in June.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org