THE GEESE ARE CALM – Something good happened in Erie, 5/8/2020

Calmer than you are. | Photo from Erie Times-News, original source unknown.

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:

Today is Day 51 of life being turned upside down for my family and about 33 million others who find themselves out of work due to the virus. For those of you still working, chances are your daily routine has been flipped on its head. If you’re like me, you can probably think of a few things that seem easier than in our prior lives, and a thousand that seem harder.

Complicating things further is that as we move to “reopen” Erie County delicately to yellow status, there is some very real trepidation that this light at the end of the tunnel could turn out to be a freight train heading our way in the form of a spike in infections and a whole new round of closures. Meanwhile, the few human interactions we have left are necessarily sanitized as we adjust to masks and distance. This is a lot to handle. Everyone is irritable and tense.

Actually, “everyone” might be overstating things just a bit, because it turns out Erie native David Shearer found a local species that is liking this whole shutdown just fine: geese. You know geese. They’re those little brown flying giraffes whose only mission in life is to cover as much of the Earth’s surface in shit as possible, which turns out to have been quite a stressful job with all you people constantly getting in their way.

If at this point you are wondering how someone who researches the relative tenseness of geese survived the atomic bomb of American layoffs to land this discovery in the first place, you aren’t alone. I wonder how this job was spared from that axe, but at the same time I don’t wish unemployment on anyone. I’m glad Shearer is doing this work. After all, the only thing worse than working from home while changing diapers and teaching a kid how to read is doing all that with no idea how the geese feel about all of this.

Now without so many people out driving around, enjoying nature and getting in the way of geese, they can shit in peace along with whatever else it is they do. Compared to 2019, Shearer says the geese are not chasing away folks they feel are intruding in their nests as often. From the article:

“I think the geese like the lack of human interactions. In terms of our research, our geese are pretty accustomed to people but also seem to be enjoying their time along during the stay-at-home order.”

David Shearer

In all seriousness, this is a good thing. It reminds us that the things we do as humans have consequences seen and unseen. A polar bear that can’t find ice is an alarming consequence of human activity. A goose that can’t find a place to nest doesn’t exactly capture the popular imagination, but it’s a piece of the same puzzle.

All of us are learning, maybe relearning, how to do more with less right now. Geese and I’m sure hundreds of other species are reaping the benefits of it. So the next time your kids are wrecking the house during your fifth Zoom call of the day and you can’t decide whether to cry or fire a gun into the air, remember – the geese are calm.

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