Doering column: Our wild goose chase

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 6, 2011

Two weeks ago, Don and I drove to Virginia to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. We toured Roanoke, Lexington and Lynchburg. While visiting the Natural Bridge, which was purchased by Thomas Jefferson for $2.40, in addition to 14,000 more acres (yes, I did say, $2.40!) we paused to sit by the river to enjoy the view.
While we observed several Canadian geese, my mind turned a page back in time to when my best friend, Gail, and I were paddle-boating at Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg, Penn. One particular day in April, we saw several mama geese with their babies following closely behind them. We noticed one particular gosling that seemed to be in distress, hardly able to keep his head above water. We paddled over to this gosling and immediately Mama Goose and her remaining babies swam away.
Once we reached the gosling, we observed that he was caught up in fishing line. The poor little babyís mouth and wing were tangled up hopelessly around his body, and we acknowledged that without human intervention, he would either starve to death or drown. Both of us struggled to reach for him and finally, we were able to get him onboard with us.
No sooner had Gail grabbed him then he immediately did what birds do best; excrement was sliding down Gailís lap and feet. As she was exclaiming, ěEwwww,î I grabbed the gosling and he immediately did the same thing to me. As I held on to him, I tried with all my might to loosen the fishing line while Gail was struggling to find something in her purse that might be able to cut away the nylon.
She could find nothing, so Gail held the gosling while I searched my purse, also in vain. The entire time we were doing this, Mama Goose was honking fiercely at us, demanding we give her back her baby. With great frustration, Gail and I paddled furiously to a pier where we saw several people observing our gosling rescue. I yelled out, ěDoes anyone have a knife or a scissors?î Soon, a man exclaimed back to me that he carried a pocket knife, and he immediately threw it into our boat.
The frightened gosling was struggling like crazy to escape my grip, and it took me several tries to finally cut the nylon away. Once I knew he was free, I put him back into the water. Several people were watching this rescue unfold, and once they saw the gosling back in the water, they clapped and cheered.
Gail and I waited in the paddleboat to see if Mama Goose would come back for her baby. Tense minutes followed as we watched our rescued gosling swim aimlessly. Both of us were crossing our fingers and saying a silent prayer that this little guy would be reunited with his family. Finally, about 10 minutes later, Mama Goose came to fetch her baby and Gail and I clapped and cheered along with the people still waiting on the pier.
We paddled back to shore, hot, sweaty, and covered with goose excrement, but none of that mattered to us. Saving one of Godís creatures made us realize that we had been in the right place at the right time. Both Gail and I still talk about that day we saved the goslingís life, and to this day, our hearts will remain connected to each other, despite the miles between us.
Jennifer Doering lives in Salisbury.