Column: Geese provide Sunday morning entertainment

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tim Engstrom, Pothole Prairie

You should go for a walk, my wife told me Sunday morning.

The ears of our dog, Alta, perked.

No, I don&8217;t want to go for a walk, I replied.

The ears dropped.

Wait, do you mean by myself or with you?

With me and Alta, she said.

Alta&8217;s ears lifted again. Soon we were out the door and we walked eastward. We walked in front of Albert Lea Medical Center by the water. People who know lakes know front means the lakeside.

The street is the back.

We stood in front of the cafeteria windows and noticed Canada geese making a landing on Fountain Lake. People inside were watching the geese, too.

We laughed as the geese slid on the ice after landing. They would flap their wings to brake before making contact with the ice but even so found themselves skating on webbed feet. It was a sight.

Lisa, Alta and I walked past the helipad and back along Fountain Street to Fountain Lake Park. Geese gathered in the shade at the park. We wanted to watch the geese, not disturb their

morning gathering. Alta generally doesn&8217;t chase ducks or geese without prompting so she mindfully walked with us to a bench in the sunshine away from the birds. There we sat listening to the honking of hundreds of birds on the frozen lake and at the park.

Geese gather in gaggles. One gaggle was happy to sleep on the ice, each goose with its head

curved back on its body. Most gaggles were enjoying morning conversations. Some sat. Some stood on two legs. Some stood on one leg. Some seemed to sleep on one leg. Others walked from gaggle to gaggle.

Suddenly &8212; plop &8212; a goose fell through the ice.

Lisa and I wondered how this goose would escape the water. It seemed to try to lift itself on the ice, only to have it break. It broke enough ice to create more space to swim around. It honked a lot, as if to ask: &8220;What do I do?&8221; Another goose walked to its site but stood on the ice as if to get a good spot to watch the goose&8217;s plight. This fellow make a noise.

Lisa rooted for the wet bird to take flight. I told her that I wonder if it needs more water for a runway. She said the goose should be able to flap enough to lift out of the water and onto the ice, not full flight but just a lift. I said probably but the ice predicament must be new to this goose.

The goose seemed to give it a rest. We noticed five geese purposely get into an open spot of water the sunshine created in the middle of the lake. We also noticed three geese walking across the ice and &8212; plop &8212; the ice broke beneath one of them. It floated stationary, stuck in one goose-sized hole.

Another gaggle came out of the blue and flew right toward us but upon noticing us and our pooch turned toward the lake, opting to land near other geese. They slid but didn&8217;t hit any buddies.

Suddenly, with wings flapping wide and water splashing about, the first goose that had fallen through the ice took enough flight to get on the ice. Lisa was right.

It honked in protest to the geese on shore, as if to say: &8220;This is no fun.&8221;

This noisy goose walked briskly to the land.

We left the park, happier for our moment watching nature in the middle of our city.

(Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom&8217;s column appears every Tuesday.)