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
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
This she thought, should have dismissed the blinking stranger and
allow her to return to her albeit one-sided conversation with the
“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
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
“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
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
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.