I’m not sure why I have never seen a dead goose. There are hundreds in the park I walk through every day. Amber just sent me an article about how thousands of Canadian geese are moving to Colorado this year, too. I am positive that I have seen literally millions of geese in my time on Earth, but I find it almost mysterious that I have never seen a dead one. That is, aside from the ones which are presumably dead that I hit with my car in high school. In that case, I have only seen a goose’s last moments.
Deep down, I know that coyotes and foxes have got to be the coroners of the goose world: a goose will parish, and one of them will quickly swoop in to dispose of the corpse. This cannot possibly happen in the daytime, however. Sitting there, drinking my beer and hoping something interesting will happen, I could not possibly miss a mammal preying upon a dead goose. I just wouldn’t. Foxes are my favorite animal, and coyotes look enough like foxes that I would also stare them down, wishing that society would not frown upon our friendship.
“Why don’t you just Google it?” Amber asks me, in reference to the goose deaths.
“Then what would I have to write about?” I respond.
I still have not Googled it, and I refuse to. I currently maintain the belief that geese uphold their own society. Just the other day, I saw hundreds of geese in the park by my house; the Labrador in front of me scared them off. I then saw hundreds of geese looking for their herd. I saw geese smack into each other in mid-air and continue on their path like nothing had happened. I saw geese stop on the ground, look around towards the air, and take off in the correct direction of their home flock. I have seen a goose shit on a person who has previously made a conscious effort to scare off an entire flock. It is based on these facts that I believe the goose society exists; this, and the fact the I have not seen a dead one of these assholes.
I can only assume, based on the lives (of geese) I have so far seen, that the geese will drag the newly-dead goose to a secret location. This location is one in which the fellow geese will constantly bark at (what the fuck do geese do – quack? squawk?). Growing up, I can remember my mom telling me that a goose “yelling at me” was a sign that it had baby goose nearby. I have got to call bullshit at this point, as the geese “yell at me” year round. I vividly recall summers in which I had to wait for geese on my street to pass before I could drive my car; springs where the cursed bird would drive my dog (at the time) crazy, my dog assuming it could fly as well; autumns filled with geese ruining the set-up of the local park light display by outnumbering the workers by at least 20:1; and now, this winter, a supposed twenty thousand of these giant, flying rats has inhabited my state, and the geese have – in every one of these scenarios – yelled at me the entire time.
This is where I should be clear: I have seen a lot of dead animals in my lifetime. This is not something I boast about, it is just an unfortunate fact. I have seen dead raccoons, crows, dogs, cats, deer, moose, rabbits, etc., etc., though I have never seen a dead goose. Not even for a second. Not even out of the corner of my eye, as some mysterious robed figure pulls the dead bird away for a secretive ritual sacrifice. Not even then have I seen a dead goose.
“The Office” had a Christmas episode in which Dwight (one of the show’s main characters) claims that he’s found a dead goose and would like to cook it for a Christmas meal. Just as I was forced to do with my mother, I had to (at this point) sever my ties with any advice I had considered even remotely helpful in this episode. A mindset in which one believes that dead geese can be seen by human eyes is one that cannot be trusted.
What must happen is that coyotes and foxes do, indeed, dispose of the geese’s corpses, (the possessive plural of goose really is geese’s, how dumb is that?) but that this activity must happen in a certain fashion. It is my estimate that the secret goose society, which appears to fly off out of nowhere, is actually controlling its personal image as a species that will live forever. The random taking-off of the flocks is their clever way of hiding that one of their own has perished, and that they are surrendering him or her to the circle of life.
Geese are also just shady. They’re the only bird that seems to make a conscious effort to hid their deaths. Geese are also the only bird I am aware of that will not back down to a fight. I haven’t directly challenged one of these birds to a physical match, but I have had them hiss at me for coming more within more than ten feet of them. Any other bird would fly away, but I know that the goose would attack. My grandmother on my father’s side is a first-hand witness. In her old age, she had developed dementia. Through the horrific illness, she still knew that she loved me though, as my only memory of her is of scaring off geese so that we could sit and have a chat at her nursing home. I was maybe five at the time, and she knew in her old age and deep wisdom, that geese were up to no good.
I do not bother the geese these days. In fact, I make a point to not scare them off as I walk through the fields they inhibit on a daily basis. Now more than ever, I have an appreciation for this bird. The goose is a bird that will not take any shit from anyone, will protect its young against a perceived threat that is at least five times its size, doesn’t let a mid-air collision slow it down from hanging out with its friends, and can move to a new location hundreds of miles away from its home and fit in just fine. Perhaps I have a lot to learn from this love/hate relationship I have with Denver’s 20,000 new inhabitants.