Monday, November 24, 2008
It rained all day today--one of those cold, steady rains that come in the late fall. Rain has its beauty. It's pleasant to sit in a cozy house on a day like this, looking out the window at the dripping trees and dreary sky, but it takes an act of will for me to get myself outdoors. A half hour into my hike, after the wet starts to seep through my boots and mud is spattered up the leg of my jeans, I'm able to make friends with the rain, but the beginning of our relationship is always rough.
It started really pouring when I was about halfway to the lake. I considered cutting the walk short, but I decided to keep going because I was curious to see if the Dude would be out. The Dude is a solitary Canada goose who has been loitering at the lake for the past few weeks. Flocks of Canada geese often rest at the lake, and for a long time I assumed he was just a mildly antisocial member of one of them, the kind of guy who sits alone in a corner with his drink at a party. But I've come to the conclusion that the Dude is entirely unattached--no wife, no buddies, nobody. I can't find any mention in my bird books of anserine hermits, but that's what he seems to be.
He's a very laid back bird, which I suppose is why I call him the Dude. He's aware of me, he turns to look at me as I approach, but otherwise he doesn't react at all. Geese can be very territorial, but he doesn't show any sign of resenting my presence. He just eyes me indifferently and goes back to paddling slowly around the lake.
I like his blasé attitude, but I can't help feeling a little sorry for him. Geese are such social birds, surely he would be better off attached to a flock. It was very cold last week, and as he swam away from me I could that there was thick frost over his back. Somehow that seemed a little tragic.
I don't know why I have this notion that he's lonely. After all, I'm out there all by myself, and I'm not lonely. On the contrary, I'm so thrilled with solitude that I'll tramp miles in the rain for the privilege of being alone by the lake as the day begins.
But this day, I didn't make the hike to be alone. I made it to see the Dude. He wasn't there. No sign of him. Perhaps he finally hooked up with a flock, but it's possible that he actually likes solitude more than I do.
Photo by Thegreenj from Wikimedia Commons.