img_0473.jpgWe have two new Sebastopol geese, purchased from Craigslist. Terrible idea, probably. My husband was out of town, which is usually how these acquisitions go down. We don’t need new geese. They can be loud and cantankerous, but also add a bit of levity to the farm and are lovely lawn ornaments.

The new geese are here. They’re quiet and resemble ballerinas with their curly, flowing feathers. And I almost lost them in the dumbest way possible.

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I texted a friend to let her know that I was driving 45 minutes to somewhere to pick up some geese. We have been friends for a long time. She understood that I am getting geese that I don’t need off of Craigslist — and need someone to know where I’m going because no one knows what I am up to. At least one person would know where to send the authorities.

Turns out, the address was a lovely farm nestled into some woods. There were a couple of breeds of geese there, one of which was brown Chinese, which we already own. I had lined the back of the hatchback with trash bags and straw for their journey.

Once home, I grabbed one goose under each arm in the attempt to transfer them to our fenced backyard. I lost my grip on both birds while trying to open the gate and they took off running. (Most domesticated geese are too heavy to fly, but they flap their wings and run like crazy when spooked.) They ran up the front hill (not fenced!), and directly into the brush over to the hunting area that runs parallel to our farm. As I tried to get around them to push them back in the right direction, they would race ahead of me and go deeper into the thickets.

I thought, “Well, this is just fantastic. I removed these domesticated ground birds from paradise, only to chase them into a 1,000-acre hunting area patrolled by coyotes, foxes, dogs, and people with guns.” Side note: I had planned to try out my new running shoes later in the day. I had not planned on a full-on, hilly sprint combined with cross-country steeplechasing for 45 minutes. Sorry, hamstrings and knees.

Deflated and extremely pissed at myself, I headed back to the house. Then I remembered the brown Chinese geese at the farm where I bought (couldn’t call them MY new geese, since they were now technically property of the state). I went to our barn and started getting our geese riled up so that they would start calling. They responded, so I flapped and jumped around for a half hour. For once I was not lamenting how loud brown Chinese and Toulouse geese can be. Lo and behold, two Sebastopol geese started heading up the street from the hunting area, then slowly made their way down our front lawn.

The trick now was to open up various gates to the backyard so they could find our other geese — all without being spotted, since they were terrified of me. I commandoed from one shielded spot to another in the back yard, opening a gate, running into the house to silence our hounds with string cheese, running back to the barn to rile up the geese. I wanted to let our geese out of the barn and into the back yard so they could be more visible to the new geese. I couldn’t know for sure that our current geese wouldn’t be jerks and chase off the new geese for good. I took that chance. After a total of 2 1/2 hours, the new geese came in one of the gates and I managed to close it carefully once they moved away. There were three other gates open, though — so more ninja maneuvers around boxwood bushes and deck chairs to secure everything. I held my arms in the air in glorious victory and shouted to no one, “I got ’em! I got ’em!”

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In the last month, the new geese have settled into the daily routine. They follow the other geese everywhere, which is all I need. The new geese are not totally sure about me yet. The other geese are imprinted on me, so they follow me everywhere. Dog and goat introductions were uneventful, and there is once again peace at the farm.

Going

I’ve had the good fortune of being able to tag along with my husband on a few work trips to places I’d never been. West Palm Beach, Miami, and next up is Hawaii. We went to a really fun wedding in Rhode Island. They have been extreme high notes in a year that needed some high notes.

Gone

In the months since my dad died, I have been constantly surprised by how the body and mind deal with stress, grief, and loss. The bones of a post have been sitting in a pile for awhile now.

Early on, I was sweating profusely and dazed. Every day has been different. Some good, some awful, some sort of in-between — combined with a flat, stagnant lack of motivation. Having experienced the loss of a parent already, I knew that the worst would come after the service concluded and all of the thank you cards had been sent. There was a new normal to get used to.

A little later came emptiness. A hole straight through my middle. Empty but with tremendous gravity. My usual nervous energy evolved into full-blown anxiety. Panicked dreams, where my parents would appear alive and mostly well, then the crush of waking and realizing that they are not. The crush feels like a grand piano being dropped on your chest. Night after night, theater troupes of fear and dread rearrange the brain’s files and unveil a new production. Mistakes and awkward moments, unearthed from years ago,  are sprinkled into the stress stew. When I wake up for work, my head feels like it’s full of gray scrambled eggs. What is most frustrating is that all of this is happening subconsciously. I am surrounded by enjoyable, fantastic things. I am hopeful and optimistic.

All of the stress has taken a toll on my body too. I am trying to be more productive while awake, to stuff my brain with small victories to go to bed with. Now that shorter days are encroaching, I am trying to stay ahead of the seasonal slump that darker days bring.

I have let grief inhabit me for too long. I need to keep fighting forward and keep going. 

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