Monday 4 February 2013

Mother Goose - The Sequel

Canada Goose

Firstly, for the uninformed, the CANADA GOOSE is NOT an indigenous form of sexual grabbing in the land of the Mounted Police. No, the Canada Goose is a bird - a very large one. It is, however, not unique to Canada although I'm sure many nations wish that were the case.

There was a time when Canada geese spent the summer in Canada but come winter, they would migrate south to warm climates just like many other Canadians. Then however, I believe they learned how to work the system, also like other Canadians. They return once per year for a minimum stay to secure free medical treatment of broken wings, acute sunburn, annual checkups etc. Obviously no birth control pills. I understand that various provincial and federal governments are working independently (of course) on closing this flagrant rip-off of public funds. So far they appear to be failing. They are up against formidable competition – superior bird-brains.

Typically the white bibbed birds fly in a distinctive "V" formation in the sky. I used to think that this behaviour proved the intelligence of the bird - very strategic. Now however, I realise that Canada Geese should be flying in "C" formation. They are not after all Venezuelan Geese. Besides, if they were so smart they would just stay south where it remains warm thus obviating the weary flights. Then the Medicare would not be needed. Now it appears that most of them stay all winter as well.

It seems that there is a population explosion every year. Given their current numbers I suspect that all they ever do is … well … goose each other. There are MILLIONS of them. They put the rabbit to shame.  A goose has up to a dozen or more offspring. I have never actually seen two of them performing the act. It makes me wonder then – why is their population so immense?

My own theory is that the "act" takes place on water right before our eyes while they appear to be just floating. It certainly gives a new meaning to synchronised swimming! That would mean that the males are very skilled and very well endowed. At any given time several are constantly "honking" - a distinctive, horrible sound. I can't distinguish the male honk from the female one. Could it be that this is climactic delight - you know, the big “O”? Are they declaring that the lake moved?  I believe that when they are honking on land, what they are really saying is "How about a quick swim - a little dip in the pond if you know what I mean - nudge, nudge, wink, wink, honk, honk?

Many consider them to be magnificent at least in the sky - “C”, “V” or whatever. In fact, all aspects of their flight are fascinating - especially the take-off and landing and there are several documentaries on the subject. The distances they cover are truly amazing. In my opinion the magnificence ends there.

Like most birds and some humans, it appears that they never received toilet training. The characteristic green droppings are everywhere. I once spent just over 2 1/2 years in London England in the early 1970’s, and there were even large numbers of them in Hyde Park at that time. I was taken back when I detected a tone of annoyance in the normal English politeness, as I brought up the subject of my fellow flying Canadians in the famous park. Quite simply, they made a horrible mess. It was as though I was being blamed. I wondered if they thought that I might recklessly squat and attend to business on the grass myself. Bloody Colonials!

Geese are attracted to golf courses – lots of grass. Golfers hate them. Spectators hate them. Greenkeepers hate them. No doubt the feeling is mutual. Although I am sure it is good for the grass, green goose poop is not good for the golf shoes. Greens have become a little too green. Golfers have developed their own "goose step" as though the green were a mine field. Removing such obstructions before a putt is not a pleasant task.

Do geese live forever? I never see any dead ones - dead seagulls and other birds, but no dead geese. I suppose this is a good thing - I would not want to have one drop out of the sky and onto my head. They bring down airplanes. A long life expectancy would explain the numbers. One of the coldest winters I recall was 1993-1994. The geese were still here. How do they eat under such conditions? The grass is under several inches of snow and ice. The ponds and most rivers are frozen. Once again we see their intellect.

These Mother Geese have learned that in winter Canadians see them as homeless fellow citizens. We feed them. I suspect the birds also know about “landed immigrant status.” In their case however they can just land anywhere without the need for airports or immigration. Mark my words: it is only a matter of time before publicly funded goose housing projects are under construction. They will get the vote at this rate.

I have a suggestion. The next time there is an emergency call for food in some part of the world, try this. There was a Canadian with a lightweight aircraft who trained his geese to follow him. Unfortunately he has passed. But perhaps someone else could copy the idea and lead the damn things straight to the stricken area. Call it “Smart-Aid” - they will actually fly themselves to those in need and their plates. Heck, the recipients could collect the goose down and sell it back to us for winter clothing thus helping both economies. We get most of our goods from abroad now anyway. I do believe my own bird brain is on to something here.

There you have it - a full circle. My mother used to read Mother Goose tales to us. Now I am writing my own. The only thing missing is the "And they lived happily ever after.” That does seem to apply to Canadian Geese – not so much to the rest of us.

The Brewster

Friday 1 February 2013

Secrets – Don't Tell Anyone BUT …

What is it in human nature that seems to cause so many of us to treat a “secret” like some kind of trading chip  - an international currency which will be accepted anywhere and can be instantly traded for more of the same?  

Whenever someone begins a conversation with the likes of “Can you keep a secret?” I have some immediate thoughts - negative thoughts. "Yes, I can keep a secret but obviously you can’t, so I will never divulge any to you." There is also the classic “I’m not supposed to tell anyone but …” and I think "So why are you?" In each case a trust is being broken if they tell me. The loose jaws really come out of the woodwork in a corporate environment, especially when the boss passes on something in confidence.

I loathe this. Is it just me or does anyone out there agree? I think along the following lines:
When someone trusts me well enough to tell me something about themselves or about some thought or concern they have, it is a compliment. This person sees me as a true friend. If they ask me to keep it to myself I do. To do otherwise is to betray the confidence placed in me. I admit that sometimes it is difficult, but for me it is a matter of pride. Unfortunately, most other people do not seem to agree. 

I have a friend who once passed on something that he was not meant to and I called him on it. He laughed and justified his actions by saying that if the source really wanted to keep it a secret, then they wouldn't or shouldn't have told him in the first place. Maybe he was right.

I suppose the only true secret is the one that never leaves the cranium. If you pass on a confidence - note the word I am using -  to a trusted friend - great!  That is one of the benefits of true friends. They are hard to find. Afterwards you have the choice of telling someone else but they do not. If a group of people all agree that something which is about to be spoken or has been spoken is to be kept strictly among the members of the group then that qualifies as a secret as well. No member however should decide independently to tell someone outside the group. 

When someone at the office seems to know just about everything before anyone else hears it they like to call it “networking.” Developing the biggest network often becomes a game practiced by both sexes. What they do not seem to realize is that some people (me for sure) conclude that the inventory of confidential information they have in their brains might have been ill gotten. People won’t continue to “network” confidential things if they receive nothing in return and It is very likely that the collector gave up something for the information in question. 

With the internet and Social Networking today it is easy to collect and dispense as much public information as desired and to be the first. Many well-known TV and Radio personalities make a career of it. But to me secrets conveyed directly to me are and will remain sacred.

Naturally all of this is just between us.

The Brewster