Talking goose

A man peered out from the shade provided by an awning and

from behind his reading glasses which had those flip down sun shades.

The sun shined bright, the sky quite blue and at this its widest point,

the Hudson River, awesome. Rowers, sailboats, ferries, day cruisers and

cruise ships like apartment buildings on water, all co-existed on this

cosmopolitan peace of river twixt New York and Jersey.

        This man appeared to be as average as one could aspire to be. So

average as to defy description. He and a woman, an average woman, not

as average as her mate but clearly a pair, close in age, were perched at

an immovable aluminum table, reading.

       They had been sitting in the sun but she soon opted for a shady spot

and so they moved to the table under the awning attached to a sleeping

carousel. He thought it a pity that this carousel should be inactive on this

the first bright warm Saturday of Spring.

       The pair, locals themselves, routinely came to this park on the river

where other locals flocked to enjoy a day outdoors. They came to read

and did so competitively, like two second graders turning blue to establish

who could hold their breath longest. He flipped his pages more frequently

than she but it must be said, the matter and author of her book was cause

for more contemplative and careful reading than his. Or so she thought.

       He exhaled first, closed his book and gazed out at the park and the

river and the city and all activities occurring in this universe environment

before him. He gazed out at the sailboats and ferries and tour boats that

went by. He wondered, might those distant people on the water be

watching him? Did they wonder what he was doing? Might they envy him?

        Rising with a shudder and a groan he started toward the sunlight and

the railing over the water. Each step brought blood flow back to his

numbed legs, stiffened by too much time in a too hard chair. Emerging

from shade to light caused his eyes to adjust similarly.

        Fifty feet or so into the future, a child of 4 or 5 squatted by the railing

above the river. A doting father accompanying her clearly showed little

trust that this railing could save his daughter from certain rivery death.

Strolling closer to the rail he discovered what was the impetus for the

child’s loud unusual squawking. Six feet below them, a lone Canada goose

sat in the water preening and paddling in circles, seeking no destination

and finding none.

       “Young lady, please forgive my interruption but that is a goose, a Canada

goose, Portropoly Floraloolus Canadiensis. You are speaking duck. If you

wish to converse with a goose then you will need address him or her in

goose.”

        The child looked at the still squinting stranger and then to her father.

She sought paternal guidance but he shrugged his shoulders and pursed

his lips as if to say, “Beats me Honey, he’s your lunatic.”

She looked at the goose, then the stranger and then back at the goose.

      “Well I don’t speak goose and this one don’t talk or pay attention

anyway.”

       This she thought, should have dismissed the blinking stranger and

allow her to return to her albeit one-sided conversation with the

disinterested bird.

       “Well, if you would indulge me, but briefly, I might show you the

rudiments of conversational goose and then you can develop your

vocabulary through simple conversation and reading. Does that seem

agreeable?”

  Again she looked to her father for answers. He had none to give.

His shrug now implied it was her turn and her dilemma.

   Looking back at the stranger she shrugged a shrug which clearly

expressed consent, guarded consent, to the stranger.

   “Thank you” replied the alien pedant. He inhaled and exhaled deeply

while adjusting his posture and stance. He put both pinkies in both nostrils,

thumbs in each ear and then scrunched up his lips with those portions of

his palms still accessible to that purpose. After inhaling deeply again, he

abruptly expelled a loud ridiculous sound which caused the targeted goose

to dive under the surface and he, the speaker to almost crumple from some

sort of respiratory exhaustion.

           Still seated at the shaded table, unaware that the reading contest was

concluded, or begun for that matter, the wife looked up from her book

and wondered what had caused her husband to produce such an ugly and

startling noise.

           “AHA!, there now”, he beamed regaining his breath. “I just informed

Brother Goose that there was a small fish about to swim directly beneath

him and so might want to investigate as it might be a passable mid-day

snack!”

        Now, having borne witness to this undeniable result, the child assumed

the position and produced a similar though different sort of noise as her

instructor. This new blurt caused the goose to do that shaking all over

thing that a wet bird or animal might do on occasion.

         “Huh” said the child in mild amazement.

         “What did you say?” asked the now exposed linguist.

         “I said that I thought the river looked chilly today and the goose

shivered. I shiver too when I'm cold!” beamed back the child.

         “Outstanding! Really Sir, I do believe your child has the gift for

languages. Indeed, you are a very lucky man, Bravo!”

      He turned and returned to the table while the now near fluent child

continued her repartee’ with the goose to the delight and wonder of all

within eye or ear shot.

     Back at the table he retrieved from his back pack a crushed bag of

Doritos that had been nesting there since maybe October.

      “Here my Dear, the bonding of new friends and the best of conversations

often happen over the meal.”

    He handed down the crumpled Doritos to the child while keeping an

eye for the parent’s cautious approval.

    With a practiced “Thank you”, she took the crumpled bag and knowing

well it’s intended purpose, proceeded to dump the contents on the

goose. Appreciating this gift, the goose began to indulge immediately

and being a polite goose uttered what the girl understood to be an

appropriately tendered “Thank you”. In her now easy conversational

Goose, she replied,”You are welcome.”

       Upon his return to the table for the last time this day, the woman packed

away her book and his and then changed her reading glasses for sun

glasses. She rose and they headed out of the park in step with a good many

others of similar intent. They all stopped before a traffic light that would

provide the group a safe passage across the busy avenue back to the city

streets.

       Upon receiving the green go, in a seemingly well organized formation,

the flock crossed the peril fraught avenue, strollers, children and walkers

in the center.