Seeing she was different she felt alone, then a surprise dropped down from the sky and she was lonely no more.
“Greta the Goose”
Greta was a big white goose who lived on a farm in the country. She had a lot of friends. There were furry white rabbits that lived in pens and ate carrots and green vegetables and red speckled chickens who stayed busy scratching in the dirt for bugs and worms and white and gray ducks who swam and played in the pond with Greta, diving beneath the surface looking for food and splashing and flapping their wings.
Sometimes Greta would see the wild geese fly high above and she would call out to them, but they would just honk and fly on their way. Greta was a domestic goose. That meant she couldn’t fly like the wild geese, but if she would run real fast she could spread her wings and sail across the pond, while her duck friends, excited, would quack and swim in circles while flapping their wings too.
From time to time the wild birds would drop in to visit and fish. The big Blue Heron who lived at the lake in the tops of the dead trees was a frequent visitor to Greta’s pond.
Then there were two black crows that came to eat the corn the farmer put out for the chickens. They were kind of uppity and would strut around the barnyard in their shiny black feathers and crow about things they had seen or done.
A family of quail lived in the fence row behind the barn. The Poppa would come out first to make sure it was safe for the family, then the Mother would come scurrying out with all her little chicks running along with her. The babies looked like little pecans with legs, coming in to feed and drink from the pond. They were fun to watch.
But there was no one who looked just like Greta and she was lonely wishing she had a family. Then one day while Greta was swimming the wild geese flew over and one of them cut out of the flock. He was having a hard time staying up with the rest of them. He landed at the far end of the water away from the barnyard.
The ducks went down to investigate but Greta kept her distance. She could see he was a handsome goose. He was a soft gray color with big brown eyes and white markings on his wings. Greta could see he had a hurt wing.
The ducks came paddling back and told her he had been shot by a hunter. His wing had just been clipped but it was bad enough to slow him down and he couldn’t keep up with the big flock going south for the winter. When he saw the pond with all the ducks he thought it would be a likely place to spend time until his wing healed and the flock flew back in the spring.
The big gray goose stayed to himself for he knew he was an intruder but the friendly little ducks kept going closer and closer. Greta glided from one side of the pond to the other with her head and neck bowed gracefully, it seemed she just slid over the water hardly leaving a ripple. She was a beautiful thing to see. All this time she was keeping her big blue eyes on the gray goose.
Eventually the gray goose swam forward to splash and play with the ducks and though Greta kept an eye on him she didn’t fall for his charming ways.
Days passed and the north winds blew stronger. The rabbits moved into their hutch, the chickens spent more time in the chicken house and the quail would scurry down and hurry back to their fence row to cuddle together for warmth as the air had turned cold and the days grown short.
The ducks, Greta and Gray Goose would stay on the water at night so the wild animals couldn’t get to them. But as the temperature dropped ice began to form on the pond. At first it was just around the edges and they would crunch in and out through the thin ice. When they rested on the bank of the pond they tucked their yellow bills under their wings to keep ice from forming in their nostrils and fluff their downy feathers over their webbed feet to keep them warm.
The ice got thicker and grew further into the deep water making it harder for them to get back and forth. Gray Goose always rested close to Greta but he was careful not to offend her, he would wait until he knew his attention was welcome. Greta admired the big goose and knew he was just waiting for her to flip her feathers at him.
One day when the north wind was blowing across the pond and Greta with Gray goose close behind was just stepping on the ice a pack of hungry coyotes appeared over the dam. They were down wind and neither the ducks nor the geese had caught their scent until they were right on them. In her surprise and haste, Greta’s webbed feet slipped from under her and she went sprawling on the ice and lay there helpless. Ducks and geese have no protection against the wild animals except to get in the water.
The coyotes moved in for they knew she was easy prey. They failed to see the big gray goose coming toward them. The ducks hurried to the water but Gray Goose came on his eyes glowing red in anger. His mouth was wide open and his tongue was twisting about and a warning hiss was coming from his mouth. He spread his wings wide and looked like a prehistoric bird as he swooped down on the surprised coyotes. Coming on them unexpectedly the coyotes scrambled to get away yelping and slipping and sliding as the angry goose chased after them snapping their tails as they went over the bank and disappeared.
When the big gray Goose turned back Greta was on her feet, her heart pounding and her knees knocking but she looked on the big Gray in adoration. He came to her with his neck stretched out and his heart full of love. She knew she was his for a lifetime.
The winter snows came and the pond froze over except the large circle in the center where the ducks and geese kept the ice broken up on the deep water. They took turns all day and all night swimming round and round to keep the water from freezing. Someone stayed on guard in case the coyotes came back.
At last the winter passed and the country showed signs of spring. Sprouts of green popped up through the brown grass and leaf buds began to swell on the trees. The hens sat on their eggs waiting for baby chicks to hatch, the rabbits lined their burrows with straw and fur pulled from their bodies to make a nest for the new bunnies soon to arrive. The ducks were busy building nests from weeds and straw and sat on their eggs to hatch the baby ducklings, and Greta goose acted shyer and more ladylike than ever and gray goose fussed at everyone that came near her, warning them away.
Soon she began to form her nest among the bales of hay and when she was done each day she would lay a large perfect egg. Anytime she left her nest she covered them with hay to keep them warm and all the time Gray Goose stood guard protecting her and their precious eggs. As the days passed and the weather warmed Greta felt the movement of life beneath her as the eggs hatched open and the fuzzy yellow goslings came peeping out to meet the world.
High above them in the clear blue sky came the honking of the great gray geese heading back north, Greta looked up. They seemed to hover above them waiting for Gray Goose to catch up. He looked up as he heard the cry of his brothers and sisters. He spread his wings and flapped them as though to fly away.
Every one in the barnyard stood still and watched to see what he would do. Greta bowed her head and waited, she knew that sometime the best way to hold your love was to set them free. Gray Goose looked at Greta and his little goslings and after one last look at his family of the wild he stretched his neck out to Greta declaring his undying love forever.
Leading the way Greta walked to the waters edge with her family following along behind. As she stepped into the water proudly, with Gray Goose and the goslings gliding by, Greta knew she’d never be lonely again.
© 2007 Bo Drury