Let me say first of all that yesterday’s turkey was probably the best one we have had in a decade. We always buy a fresh turkey, and we try to get one with as little extra “solution” added as possible. Some turkeys will have over 12% of the weight of the bird made up of basically salt water. It answers our human cravings for salt, but what a crazy way to fill up the stomach… For some reason, though, from the stuffing, to the cooking time to the carving – at was all wonderful. Since I was a little boy, I have always preferred the dark meat, since more often than not, the white meat was dry, stick-in-your-throat-like-trying-to-eat-a-graham-cracker-in-the-desert kind of experience. Not so yesterday’s bird! As I carved it, you could see the juiciness just pour out. I placed the turkey meat on the flow blue platter, circa 1890s, that Mom bought at auction in Australia when we lived there when I was a child, about 57 years ago. It was an all-in-all nice meal with our sons, and we did it all over again with turkey sandwiches in the evening.
It did get a little warm in the kitchen and dining room as we were cooking, however, so we opened up one of the windows to let the cool, nearly winter air exchange with the humid, hot potato-boiling atmosphere indoors. It was then that we began to hear the crazy sound of geese flying overhead. About every three or four minutes, we would hear incredibly loud, raucous honking, and we’d look out the window to see small groups of geese flying about ten feet above our rooftop! Now, we live between the golf course lake, and the artificial slough formed when they built the dike system to help us avoid sandbagging in the extra wet springs. I’m pretty sure there are hundreds of geese, and a nice squadron of ducks living between those two bodies of water.
The thing is those knuckleheads can’t seem to make a commitment about where they want to live. Throughout the summer, we will have pretty regular flyovers of groups of geese changing their reservations from the Hilton Dike Slough, to the Hotel Rose Creek – they must offer special deals, sort of like Las Vegas during the pandemic. So, these crazy (it’s hard to find a different word) waterfowl fly back and forth, probably test-tasting the buffets at the different spots. There are times it’s pretty interesting, when an especially large group makes the run to and fro.
However – and you may have realized it already – yesterday was November 26. The END of November, and almost the beginning of winter, especially up here in the northland. One of the maxims we all learned as children was “Geese fly south for the winter.” Now, I don’t know if they have condos in Arizona, or a nice little spot near St. Petersburg, Florida, but the rule is – they fly south. Supposedly. I have read, however, that the flying-south thing is less an issue of air temperature – they are originally from Canada, after all – as it is a matter of finding food. Where there are plenty of berries and grasses and other gunk to eat, geese will tend to get a bit lazy, and decide not to make the long flight south. It’s kind of like human snowbirds who move into a condominium where the snow removal is taken care of, and they buy a nice big hot tub that they put in a cabana to use year round. They tend not to fly south either…
I think this is our situation as well. Fargo must have a lot of food, and it’s accessible, even when the snows come. So the Canadian geese, and the snow geese, and the ducks have decided they will just enjoy a winter wonderland, and leave the commute to other, less fortunate, less urban gaggles.
However, the crazy (there’s that word again) birds still have an innate need to commute somewhere. Since there are more than one watering holes in the vicinity, they have spent their time when they normally would have headed south, and just fly back and forth between the ponds. I’ve counted up to 18 geese, formed up in a nice official looking skein (by the way, when geese are on the ground, they form a gaggle, but when they are flying in the “v” formation, they are called a skein), flying low and looking proud as they zoom over our housetop. I’ve also seen what can only be described as embarrassing messes. Two geese, or four or five, or even just one will also go careening over the top of our home, looking to try to hook up with a larger group. It’s really humiliating, however, when you only have one goose, and he is honking to beat the band, and no other geese are around. You almost want to avert your eyes in embarrassment for them.
Now, it could be that they are checking with our meteorologist, because after a chilly late September/early October, it’s been a perennial nice autumn – tomorrow will be 46 degrees, and there is no reason to fly south when it’s that nice. However, a month from today will be two days after Christmas, and you have to know that by then, the idea of “warm” will mean getting up to 25 in the heat of the afternoon. Although that seems a little late in the season to head south, when the ponds are all iced up and there’s a foot of snow on the ground that doesn’t melt, that doesn’t describe a goose paradise.
The good news is, I’m not on the goose-fly-south committee. It’s up to them, and for us, we have the comedy that comes as crazy geese go back and forth over the space of a mile, looking for either a hot tub and berries, or someone to fly with.
I’ve always said that “why” is the last question answered. Why haven’t the geese flown south? It’s not a question, for which the answer will be found. The geese aren’t putting out press statements.
Neither do most folks we know. There are times when the actions of others seems crazy too, or so random and thoughtless that we want to question the health of their decision making. The truth is, however, that they -- like us, will make their own decisions and choices based on their own set of reasons. In our effort to be intentional, therefore, we need to always be careful not to superimpose our thought process on others, and to proclaim that, since they have not thought things out the way we would, that they have not been intentional. That’s a mistake, and the best we can and should do is to respect their thoughts, and not try to run the show. Even if you think they are acting like crazy geese. That’s up to them. Our work should be to try to sort out our own crazy in this world…
Word for the day: vagarian. Pronounced vuh-GARE-ee-un, it can be defined from a gentle to a horrible description. It comes most fully from the Latin vagus, which means “wandering.” A “vagary” is a roaming journey that one might take, unsure of where you might end up. We’ve all done that before. A vagarian, however, is one who goes on a journey in his/her mind. Have you ever been with someone who will start to either tell a story or try to explain something, and pretty soon, you are just wondering how it’s all going to turn out?
So, in the nicest sense, a vagarian is a whimsical person, with great imagination, and not a great deal of internal mental discipline. In the worst sense, the title “vagarian,” is just a nice way to say “crackpot.” By the way, in the 1400s, someone with crazy ideas, or a lunatic, would be seen as having a “cracked” – faulty – “pot” meaning head, or brain. It’s not an endearing description.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.