Mrs. B

I'VE NEVER SEEN CANADIAN GEESE FLY

By: Patricia Bryson
By: Patricia Bryson

Since I have never been very interested in geese or very curious about large birds, I am indebted to others for information concerning geese and their flying habits. To study these unusual birds that seem to show loyalty, empathy and co-operative behavior is very intriguing, even extraordinary and inspirational.

Since I have never been very interested in geese or very curious about large birds, I am indebted to others for information concerning geese and their flying habits. To study these unusual birds that seem to show loyalty, empathy and co-operative behavior is very intriguing, even extraordinary and inspirational. Max Lucado, a minister who is a prolific writer, has really become interested in the behaviors of Canadian geese and sees many correlations to spiritual principles in their daily life. It is really interesting to me to think that animals might cheer each other on, sympathize with and help an ailing companion, take turns and/or work in sync and think as a group. In “The Word for You Today”(Cape Girardeau,MO), the writer mentioned that in Pennsylvania in early winter the skies literally darken as multitudes of Canadian geese gather for their annual flight south. They fly unified. Geese don't fly separately, in random style, because no goose alone can go that distance. They are designed to fly in the “V” formation. The movement created by the bird flapping its wings provides an uplift, easing the work load of the bird behind it. Together their flight range increases about 70%. Even the youngest, weakest and oldest geese can make the trip. They accomplish together what they could never accomplish separately. Occasionally a goose strays off on its on but soon becomes exhausted, loses altitude and ultimately pulls back into their formation.

“Every goose is a 'pinch-hitter'. When one goose gets in a pinch, another 'goes to bat' for him. Every formation has to have a 'point goose', out front, leading, setting the pace for the others.”

It's hard being the point goose; he's the one to feel the weather changes first and has the job of keeping the formation on target whatever the situation. At the last Musette concert, I had the wonderful surprise of hearing my granddaughter, Chelsea, beautifully sing one of my favorite songs, “Wind Beneath My Wings.” This song is a song telling of the strength received from one in front of you, helping you to achieve accomplishment and acclaim that is really not yours at all. This song is written by someone who understands the dynamics of the geese's “V” formation and knows the price paid by the one in front who has the hard, exhausting and lonely job of persevering without someone in front to be the wind beneath his wings.
“In the world of geese the aged, very young and ill are kept protected in the rear of the formation, but they aren't isolated, discounted or considered useless; they fulfill a vital role. They become the honking section and cheer for the leaders. Inevitably bad weather threatens the mission; the going gets tough and the tough are struggling. From the rear of the formation a lone honk sounds, initiating a goose chorus honking encouragement to the point goose.”

Now that is the greatest thing I've heard in many a day!!! And it is so true that we can all accomplish more when we are cheered on. I love that! I hope that everyone of you has a “honking section” behind you, supporting you, saying, “We are behind you; we've got your back.” Those among my children who run races often have stories of a runner going back after crossing the finish line to encourage another. At the Run For the Hills 5k run, I saw my sweet daughter- in -law, after crossing, look around to see who in her flock hadn't come in, and then head back to encourage that one. To know that someone cared for me that much would mean far more to me than a trophy!

“With geese, their relationship is 'til death do us part'. They take it seriously. They're fully committed. When a bird is unable to continue, the group provides it comfort, nurture and protection. Two strong geese leave the formation, flying with the 'patient' between them, find a sheltered location with food and water and make a home for the needy bird. They will stay with the bird until it recovers or dies before joining another formation.” Lost and stray geese are always welcomed into the formation. The formation will alter its plans, reschedule its arrival time and inconvenience itself to accommodate any strangers. If all of this is true, I have a lot to learn from these big birds with little brains. They seem not to have the bad habit that people often have of getting so caught up in MY plan, MY journey, MY job, and MY life that we lose sight of the others in our flock. It seems to me that there are different stages in our flights; sometimes we will be the “point” and sometimes we will be the “ailing”, sometimes we will be the “provider”, but let's always try to remember to be in the “honking section” ready to encourage those around us. (You can reach Pat Bryson at patriciawbryson@gmail.com)
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