I remember the late December evening as being unusually warm, somewhere in the 50s. Naked branches had long replaced autumn hues, but at dusk, the sun cast a series of yellow and orange streaks over the intersection of Routes 141 and 52, and the St. Joseph on the Brandywine Church looked more beautiful than usual.
We drivers were cruising along, happily ignoring each other, when a bizarre situation presented itself. About 20 geese planted themselves across Route 141, blocking traffic both ways. Geese aren’t unusual, but they don’t often create blockades on major roadways at rush hour.
Not that I understand the minds of geese, but they could’ve been drawn to a spot eerily illuminated by the setting sun, or maybe it was the balmy temperature. They didn’t appear frightened when the rubber of our screeching tires sounded. And for a moment, when members of my own species (human) pounded their horns with palms that seemed Super Glued to their steering wheels, I wanted to join the birds.
The geese were unfazed.
Your basic city girl, I was so awestruck by the sight that I pulled off to the side of the road to observe. Certainly, I found the animals’ behaviors strange. One might expect some fear instinct to kick in. But what really affected me was the people—the people I ignore every night, the people I couldn’t care less about, the people who, by sharing the road with me, I tacitly trust with my life.
Consider the scenario. It was quitting time. Most of us were going home from work. And those who worked hard were tired, hungry, and irritable. There were children to pick up and dinners to cook. There was every reason to be perturbed by a bunch of birds that simply refused to cede the road.
Five minutes went by. The geese sat. We sat. Then a strange calm settled over us, even the horn blowers. When one young woman rolled down her window, I expected her to scream in an expletive-laced rant. It didn’t come. She motioned to the man in the other lane to roll down his window. He did. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but they were laughing. I think it’s safe to assume that they were laughing about the goose situation.
An older man got out of his car, shook his head, and also started laughing. I laughed to myself.
I envisioned all of us laughing. Only a few minutes earlier, these were the same people we ignored every night, couldn’t care less about, and by sharing the same road and mutual geese, now felt better about trusting with our lives. Somehow our feathered friends inspired human interaction, all because they decided to chill in the middle of Route 141 at rush hour. For about three minutes, it appeared that we strangers had all found something to laugh about.
Then the wind gusted and the birds moved off the road. But in those few minutes, my faith in my own species was restored, not to mention my faith in geese.