On January 21, a skein of eight Canada geese circled overhead and landed on the pond and then spotted the new grass growing beside RH's workshop and came to visit.
I understand that when they waddled up the hill to our driveway they became a gaggle of geese, but after a few days they became The Elegant Eight to me. RH and I watched as they left every afternoon near dusk and flew back in every morning around 7 a.m. The two times of day were highlights in our small-world life.
Soon they were joined by other Canada geese, totaling 20, all honking for RH to put food out for them after they found the cracked corn he puts out for our resident 5 crows and ground feeding birds. (Are 5 crows enough to be classified as a murder of crows?)
I know you're not supposed to feed wild geese but they were here anyway, feeding on what our small birds ate so soon we were putting out chopped grapes and apples, romaine lettuce and cucumbers, and leftover oatmeal from our breakfasts.
They are often joined by a small herd of deer who cross our yard every day.
Yes, deer ruin some of the small trees RH planted in our front yard but aren't they beautiful?
Back and forth from the pond to our house the geese came throughout the following days, especially as soon as they saw RH's truck pull in the driveway. I've since read that geese are very intelligent and I can easily believe that.
One day last week, a few days before the big ice and snow storm arrived, two geese with white heads landed on the pond and came up to see what all the commotion was about at Home Hill. I think these were Blue geese.
A paddling of ducks flew in after them, smaller than the mallards who regularly visit. Goldeneye ducks were the only type of small wild duck I could find that look like them when I enlarged the picture and spotted all the white on their chest and sides.
These small ducks flew away once this hawk landed on the bat house overlooking the pond.
Every evening RH and I would watch the Canada geese fly into the western sky, a melancholy but sweet sight. And then one morning, two days before the ice storm arrived in Nashville, The Elegant Eight and the other geese didn't return. Within 24 hours the pond was frozen over. RH says they probably flew to water that wasn't frozen but may come back when it thaws.
I hope so. I miss them. One afternoon when RH was working late I went out among them. They were a little frightening, hissing at me. I was surprised by how tall they were.
I steeled myself and kept scattering frozen corn that I thawed and warmed slightly until everyone had a fair share, 20 geese swirling around me.
At that time I didn't know that Canada geese have been known to bite or fly into your face and maybe that's what saved me, them knowing that I wasn't worried about that. Or maybe I was just lucky.
It was an experience I'll never forget even if I never get up my nerve to get as close to them again.
And I'll always have this video that RH took one afternoon as The Elegant Eight went through their flying-away ritual. Every time I watch it my heart flutters a little as they top the far trees.
It's only a minute long and I think you'll understand how I feel about The Elegant Eight.
P.S. Look who came back two days ago! The Elegant Eight and some of their friends!
RH saw them land on the pond and then walk to the thawed parts and hop in the water. It must have been so cold! If you look at the top of the picture above you can see another pond, two houses down from us. It's small but has a fountain that birds like.
I came into the kitchen in time to snap RH in his robe returning from feeding The Elegant Eight an apple and grapes that he quickly chopped up.
That was a happy day for us. RH and I are so very thankful for something else also.
Last Saturday, as soon as the Music City Center opened back up for vaccinations after the snow and ice, we went back for our second Pfizer vaccination. If it hasn't been available for your age/vocation group yet, I hope it will be soon.
I knew that we might feel a little poorly (as my grandmother used to say) afterwards and had planned ahead with freezing some meals and getting caught up on things. RH had a bad headache the first night and fatigue for a couple of days. About three hours after the vaccination I felt as if I'd been struck with instant flu, aches and chills and a feverish feeling. For the next two days I took it easy and then spent another day well enough to start catching up on housework but having to make myself. The next day I was fine!
I have marked three weeks on the calendar and then, God willing, I hope to start grocery shopping myself again--may I never again complain about having to go grocery shopping! There are so many places around that I haven't been in nearly a year that I'd love to visit again. And then there's the big thing to look forward to, visiting with family as soon as it is safe to.
We were told that we need to continue wearing masks everywhere because we could still be carriers, a fact I didn't know. And our vaccination is 94% effective, so there's always that other 6% risk. Our dose is only 50% effective against some other strains of COVID so we realize that diligence is still needed.
I hope you all are well. I hope that all of you have moments in your day that bring you joy, just as The Elegant Eight have us. And I pray that this blasted pandemic will someday come to an end.
[2/28/21--look at this guy that was at our bird feeder when I opened the kitchen door this morning! He ran towards the road but looked back at me so I could snap his picture. He was handsome but I really don't want him hanging around. He looks like he's missing a leg here but I don't think he was.]