“Why would you live out there? I mean what's it like really with all those animals? You know on a normal day. Don't you get sick of being so far away from civilization.” the woman carrying the big black patent purse with buckles and long red polished nails purchasing some Dill Havarti at Everybody’s Store asked me spritely.
I gave her my canned answer “Oh I get into Bellingham every day really. And the animals well, I feed them, clean out the barn, let them graze,the regular things. No one really wants to hear the truth. It's like when some says 'how are you?' very few really want to know your real answer. "That’ll be $4.82 please.” I said smiling as I rang her up. I couldn't help thinking how much I hate Dill Havarti it's so pedantic. After all the good cheeses I gave her to taste. She might as well eat grass and butter. Not that I have anything against butter. "Thank you!"
As I thought about the lady with the shiny handbag, I wondered about what she said. A normal day I suppose is a day when everything goes as planned and that just isn’t very normal. Take the last few days for example. Awesomez came in to town with Nick and the washing machine broke, Edward had a painful abscess just above his hoof, the pipes froze to Amy’s house leaving her without water and us without any working washer and then while we were at gymnastics we got a frantic phone message from Amy telling us half the geese were missing.
“Missing?” Awesomez asked. “Has this ever happened before? What do we do?
“Never not in two years. After we get home, I’ll drop you guys off and I’m going to go look for them, but I’m worried. It’s late. It might be too late,” I responded. “Amy says she thinks they’re out by the pond, but it’ll be at least an hour before Henry finishes and we get home.”
“If you’re going. I’m going, I’m not letting you go alone,” she said. I smiled to myself. My asthmatic friend, my accident-prone friend, my friend who is afraid of sheep and terrified of turkeys who would otherwise never step foot on a farm was first and foremost ‘my big sister’. “They’re always together, why would they separate?” Awesomez wondered aloud.
“That’s a frightening question. I don’t think I want to know the answer to. I imagine they’re in the forest. At least they’re girls and they’re camouflaged. The boys would practically glow.” I murmured as she drove home on the windy dark state route 9. “You know, I don’t expect to find them alive. They’re mostly the young ones and they’re probably out honking in the forest on a cold dark night. A goose dinner would sound pretty good to a coyote, bobcat, fox, cougar, heck even a raccoon could probably take Linda down,” I said quietly not wanting to upset Henry who was sitting in back with Nick. We drove the rest of the way in silence intermittently turning on one of the few stations we get on the 9 - PRAISE which plays not often heard renditions of unusual Christmas songs.
“Can we turn that off?” Nick complained. “It’s kinda freakin’ me out.”
When we got home Amy met us at the gate wearing one of her throw-anything-on-that’s-warm–ensembles earmarked by various stripes in all directions and jumped in the van. We drove over to the barn and I got out with Amy while everyone else waited in the van, just in case the missing geese had come home since Amy’d last checked. We walked in the open barn to see a frantic gaggle. Lloyd, Clara, and Cleveland were milling about the center of the barn. They refused to go in their pen. In fact, I couldn’t usher them in with a stick and Amy. On a hunch I grabbed Lloyd figuring if the scared and wayward young geese were still alive and out there, they’d more likely come to Papa Lloyd’s pleas than mine. I handed a sleeping Henry Lloyd and glanced over at Awesomez. She hadn’t flinched at the idea of a goose riding in the van. She simply sat there as though this was something that happened everyday. She was changing before my eyes.
With Awesomez driving the Mystery Machine we slowly headed down the rocky path toward the pond the windows open cold air swirling around us. No one complained we were listening for honks. All was quiet.
“There! I see them! Stop!” I yelled. Although I didn’t have to yell, Awesomez did as she was told and hit the brake.
“Where?” Everyone in the van asked almost in unison but not quite.
“There!” I pointed to the center of the pasture. “They went to the safest place possible. They’re not as dumb as I thought. They couldn’t have been more safe than in with Miracle and Edward.” I said hopping out determined to retrieve my geese.
The first one was fairly easy to catch. I got angel-winged Linda and handed her over to Amy who took her straight up to her worried mother. Numbers two and three, LuAnn and her wily aunt Mabel, had me running all over the pasture and back. You’d think I was after them for Christmas dinner. Miracle wondered what the heck was going on and thinking donkey thoughts in her donkey brain, she figured I was mad at the geese, so she started charging them trying to mow them down just to help me out. This kicked up the stress to a whole new level for me and the birds. However after I told Miracle to stop she stopped completely confused by my antics. No one in the van came to my aid. Instead, they sat in the van with the lights shining on me for their amusement.
After slipping and falling on the ice countless times, I finally got LuAnn through the fence and herded her up the hill as I carried an exhausted but very discontent and vocal Mabel.
Once inside the barn, I put all the geese in their pen and shut the barn doors tight for the night, shoving a broomstick through the door handles to keep predators out, just like normal.
Awesomez was alone, the boys and Amy had gone in for the night, but she was waiting for me with the van nice and warm. “I got them in their pen. They’re all happy to be together again.”
She smiled handing me the paper towel. It was the one she’d just finished wiping Lloyd’s goose poop up off the leather seats with, “Perfect”.