Thursday, November 20, 2008

Look! Up In The Sky...I Mean, Down On The Road!

I've got a story that's going to severely test my writing skills (shut up...I do too have writing skills. maybe skillz, even!), because what I witnessed in person was so much more shocking and so much funnier than anything I'll be able to describe with words. And I don't have any visual aids to help it along, either.

But I've got to give it a shot.

Last weekend I was driving to a buddy's house, and a few miles of that drive runs through a marshy/wildlife-type area near where I live. I was at a stop sign, turning onto a two-lane county trunk road, with your normal standard-size ditches on either side.

Before I had a chance to get up to any kind of traveling speed, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye that looked like it was falling from a height of maybe twenty feet, near the ditch farthest from the lane I was in.

When I looked over to give it my full attention, I saw a big mass of something and it took me a few seconds to realize that it was a bird...a big bird (not that one)...with its wings splayed out and its body not at all in any sort of upright or flying position.

As I watched, I realized that this bird wasn't flying, but...tumbling. It had hit the ground in the ditch, and must have done so at such an angle that instead of stopping right there on the ground,! That's the only word I can use. It bounced! And it bounced a good several feet up into the air, because its momentum carried it onto the road and it did, from what I saw, two complete flips in the air before coming to my lane, about ten yards in front of my car, which was now completely stopped as I watched this unfortunate display of aerobatics gone awry.

The bird came to rest facing the ditch from which it bounced, and was seated on its...I dunno, whatever you call a Canada goose's ass. Not on its feet, but just planted right there on the road, unmoving for at least ten seconds while it tried to get its bearings.

While it was doing that, I was staring right at it, trying to figure out what I'd just seen. Did a hunter just shoot it out of the sky? It was sitting so completely still, I wondered if it was even real, or if someone was off on the side of the road throwing decoys into traffic.

Those thoughts didn't float around in my head for very long, as the goose began to noticeably move its head and neck. One of its wings was still a little out of whack, and as it got to its feet, I could tell it was trying to tuck it into its folded position.

The goose took a few very slow steps and as I started to creep my car up toward it, it turned and began to walk away, opening its wings and flapping them a few times, but never leaving the ground. Instead, it waddled straight ahead for a bit and then off into the ditch next to my lane, and into some tall weeds to recover from the stunt it had just involuntarily performed.

The only explanation I have for what I saw is that it was a misjudged landing. And not by a little!

We've all seen smaller birds fly into windows and get a little dazed...or worse, as you sometimes find them lying on the ground below. But this has to be the first time I've ever seen a bird bounce off the ground with such force that it flipped in the air without its own consent.

I think it took me as long to process what I witnessed as it did for the goose to recover from the accident. Maybe he had a couple too many gin-and-tonics the night before, or was a victim of those terrorists from Die Hard II, who took over the airport's computer equipment and reset sea level at minus-200 feet.

This guy clearly needs practice on his landings. And while I didn't have time to get my camera off the back seat and out of the bag before all of this was over, I'm assuming if I would've gotten a good closeup, the goose may have looked... and felt...something like this.

You kinda had to be there to see it.

"A goose flies by a chart which
the Royal Geographic Society
could not mend."
—Oliver Wendell Holmes


  1. I've been trying sooooo hard to find a funny, smart comment for this entry.

    But, I'm just plain out. Maybe it's seasonal depression...I don't know. Five days later and I still have NOTHING.

    I've hunted geese long enough to have seen some funny shit from these birds. But, to have the stunts and antics you describe happen without the benefit of some steel shot in this bird's ass is hilarious.

    The damn bird is funnier than I could be. Stupid goose.

  2. You get an A for effort, though, Brad.

    And if you've been thinking about one of my blog entries for five days, you clearly have too much time on your hands. Or...brain. Or something.