"...The lazy geese, like a snow cloud
Dripping their snow on the green grass,
Tricking and stopping, sleepy and proud
Who cried in goose, alas"
--from John Crowe Ransom's, Bells for John Whiteside's Daughter
I am reading a fabulous book right now by Sue Hubbell called A Country Year. As I was walking my laps around the playground at lunch today "supervising" the kids, I read about a party she had that went pretty well except for her rooster chasing one of the kid attendees and making him cry. This made me think about the nasty pair of geese my dad had when I was a teenager, and how scary it was when they chased me. They were nothing at all like the geese from the poem above--not lazy, not tricking and stopping, and definitely not sleepy! They were white like a snow cloud, I will give them that, but they were a-g-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e. One time in particular, I was walking out to the pasture with my dad (they left him alone) and we got separated momentarily (it was all the time they needed) and they came after me. It was truly terrifying--2 hissing (they hiss!) BIG, birds moving toward me with a quickness, ready to take me apart, or so it seemed. My dad was so worried (I'm pretty sure he was LAUGHING). I let out a few hysterical shrieks before using the only weapon I had to keep them back--my cowboy-booted foot. That's right, I kicked one, and what a satisfying whump! it was. After that, I stayed close to my thoughtful, concerned dad when I went outside, or else I'd make sure they were somewhere else before darting out to my destination.
This childhood trauma continued to scar me throughout my adult life, until I got chickens of my own. I feared large indoor birds, like Romeo, a.k.a. Flippem' my friend L's cockatoo. I admired chickens, from a distance, but secretly feared that they were going to charge and peck at me. Roosters are still sort of scary, but I bet if I owned one, I might feel differently. I got my chickens in September when they were 3 weeks old, a decidedly un-scary age. Bonding with them and watching them grow into big ol' black hens has erased the scary factor. And this effect has shown to be transferable, too, as I have picked up other people's full grown chickens, no problemo. So, not only are my chickens wonderful in that they give me love and 4 eggs a day, they are like therapy animals, as they've cured me from my PTSD caused by those damn geese. I should have raised chickens years ago, alas!