Ricky Harpole column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Courting geese perform aerobatics as they scout possible nesting sites

It has probably become evident by now that I have spent half of my life in dens of iniquity and the other half in the woods.

I can’t say where I had the most fun. Blowing the roof off a bordello in El Salvador during my squandered youth rates pretty high, but the courtship rituals of a pair of wild geese I observed last week was a cool experience, too.

Now I know that everybody has had a gander at their high altitude V-shaped formation and heard their “honks,” as have I. I have observed them with delight on a Christmas dinner table on several occasions, but the courtship rituals were a different cup of tea.

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It was hardly daylight and I was attempting to restring a banjo out on the picnic table when I heard them. Incoming, low altitude and only two, which exactly matched the old 10-gauge shotgun I generally use to assist in the banjo stringing process. If I had been hungry, this tale would probably have had a culinary outcome, but that morning I was overcome by the truly romantic aspects of their behavior.

They were flying in tandem, talking to each other and performing aerobatic feats at low altitudes that any stunt pilot would assure you are intricate and dangerous. That old boy and girl were in tune like a seasoned fiddle.

I can’t tell you exactly what they were saying to each other because they were Canadian geese and French Canadian is one of several languages I never quite got the hang of and I wouldn’t tell you anyway because repeating overheard conversations between courting lovers just naturally don’t fit the Southern Gentleman’s Code.

They were checking out several local ponds and lakes, possibly for a honeymoon suite and to start a family. One of the ponds is behind the Rev’s house. I know this because over the next three hours they made three dry-run passes and briefly landed to inspect the real estate.

Now ol’ Rev would marry ‘em up with ceremony, but like all young lovers they are shy and reclusive around strangers. Rev and I discussed their situation at length and concluded that international travelers should be able to shack up in a Panola County pond or lake without benefit of official ceremony and not be inconvenienced by coyotes or coons or egg thieves. After all, a gun built for goose will also be effective on goose predators and other politicians. As long as they can put up with an occasional bonfire party and banjo and fiddle music of a dubious quality they will be welcomed and cherished here with true southern hospitality.

After all, I’ve a lovin’ respect for navigators and pilots and most things that swim.
On guard,


(P. S. Does anybody know a decent recipe for a bobcat? If so contact me at www.facebook.com/harpolive or www.colespointrecords.com)