It’s been awhile since I wrote about geese.
The spirited little flock that used to share take over our lives held deeply entrenched views on a number of things. They were fond of corn. But on the plus side that’s about as far as it went. Pretty much everything else would be met with a vociferous assault. Mike was top of their hit list. And then any traffic that dared to stray onto the farm road.
The geese, with Churchill at the helm, were fiercely protective of their airspace. A heron turned this challenge into a sport. It would ensure that its landing trajectory took it directly over their heads, dangling its feet almost (but just not quite) into the range of an upturned beak. Hot air balloons were a favourite. Spotted from afar they were kept under surveillance lest they should dare to float close by. Notwithstanding, some had the audacity to pass right over the lake, all eyes from below drilled into their target. As soon as the balloon could be deemed safely beyond the point of no return it was treated to a piece of the collective mind. Not the best moment for someone to lean out of the basket and wave.
One memorable weekend an air display was held nearby. Mike decided to go along, but as it turned out he could have saved the £10 entrance fee and stayed at home. I got a coffee and went to sit outside. The RAF were forming up their displays over the fields on the far side of the farm. Regrettably, they had chosen to lock into formation directly over the lake before flying on over the village to the airfield beyond.
The geese stood and watched the first oncoming planes. And then waited, in customary silence, until the last one had passed almost out of sight. But just as Churchill opened his beak to let them know exactly how he felt, the next wave of aircraft hove into view. An AWACS, with a Tornado jet on either side. Very big and very loud. The geese went into apoplexy. Total pandemonium broke out on the farm road. They scattered in every direction. Two collided and started a fight. A third made a lunge for the wing of a fourth and feathers flew. Wave after wave of aircraft passed low overhead. There was nothing for it but make a break for the barn. Wings flapping, necks outstretched and screeching like banshees they raced off up the road.
It was the sound of Mike’s returning car that eventually drew them back down.
The look in his eyes said it all. For Churchill there was absolutely no doubting where the blame lay.