Among the thousand gratitudes, I am grateful for lessons from the Canada geese who breed in the ponds near our house. They may as well be mama bears, guarding all the paths and sidewalks near their nests, hissing at dogs and people and strollers who walk by – I actually cross the street with my dog, rather than go near them. It takes constant watching, walking the dog around the geese – the geese can climb up unexpectedly from the reeds, for example, to scare the dog. And navigating a curious descendent of hunting dogs around goose poop is a whole other thing.

But … I love them. I love their beauty, I love their fierceness, their protectiveness, their sureness that they can take on anyone who comes near. I love the way they test out different spots – a puddle in our front yard, the water collecting on the cover of our neighbors’ pool – and finally land where they always land, the local ponds and swales. I love the way they communicate loudly with each other in the early morning and the late afternoon. It’s a sound that reminds me that there are benefits to living away from the city. And I love how hard they work at the business of keeping and protecting their eggs.

But most of all, I love what’s coming next. No one is prouder than a parent goose with their flock of goslings, and soon they will be floating their children around the pond, and marching them carefully across the small streets. People drive carefully at those intersections at this time of year – the parent geese march their goslings across the street from pond to pond, and they know they own the ponds and the surrounding street corners – at least as much as any pond or corner can be owned.

Last year, two geese families shared a pond close to my house. They nested on opposite sides of the pond, and they spent their days floating in two flocks. But if one family got out of the pond and went for a walk, the other one did, too. In their own way, they shared the responsibility of making decisions about how to spend their time. They were a tiny goose community, and this year, the two sets of parents are back. I just can’t wait to see their young.

I can’t help sharing a photo from one of last year’s flocks – the camera on my phone didn’t really capture the sweetness and personality of the goslings, but the parental pride is evident – they did an amazing job protecting those eggs, and they raised absolute beauties!