As Karen and I completed three and one half days on the swollen Ohio River, we pulled the boat out at a public ramp in Powhatan Point, OH, to call Kyle, Karen’s son, to come and pick us up. He was in Pittsburgh and had about a two hour drive to get to us. (no comment on the two hour drive vs. the 3 1/2 day paddle!) We decided to spend some of the time paddling up the small creek where the ramp was. It was very calm and we paddled under some bridges and trestles (known to us as T-R-E-S-T-L-E-S stemming from a story when John and I first met and couldn’t remember if that word had a T in the middle or not). The trestles were clearly conveyors of coal cars as some coal had spilled out onto the pylons. I, of course, had to have some as a souvenir so we paddled up close and I snatched a couple of pieces.
We had seen many goose families along the river. This small creek had its own family but this family was a bit different from the ones we had seen. We could not tell at first what we were seeing but it was not the traditional mom and pop and fuzzy babies. Mom and pop were there with three or four babes but there was another bird in with them. We paddled as quietly as we could and as fast as we could to try to catch up with them. We finally outsmarted them under a bridge where we went on the other side of a pylon, getting a bit ahead of them before we came out from under the bridge. They, of course, were on to us immediately and turned around but not before we identified the strange bird. Much larger than the adult Canada geese, the other parent or uncle or aunt, acting as though it was part of the family, nudging the babes and encouraging them to keep us, turned out to be a domestic goose! It was mostly white with some brown and neither it nor the geese seemed to care that it was “different.”
It was a striking and sweet sight. Reminiscent of the story of The Ugly Duckling, it did not look like it belonged, and yet it did belong, at least in some sense on the genus/species spectrum. Where did the goose come from? Somewhere up river, did it decide to jump ship from it farmyard and join its wild cousins? Did flood waters scoop it up? Did someone abandon it? Who knows. But what we witnessed, and therefore know, is that goose family represented a greater sense of an inclusive family than many of us humans can understand.
Stay tuned for a photo.