We all enjoy a good chuckle from social media memes, tee-shirts … even bumper snickers. I’ve seen the expression used today in my headline countless times. It claims to have Southern origins as early as 1850 – 1900 and was even parlayed into the 1998 song “When Mama Ain’t Happy” by country music singer Tracy Byrd.
Although neither the memes, nor the saying, are generally associated with Mother’s Day, this humorous expression begged to be paired with this series of images I saw while meandering around Coan Lake at Heritage Park.
After a quick stop at the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to check out their fresh Spring plantings, I was disappointed to discover the blossoms from that park’s many flowering trees were scattered on the ground. There went that photo op. Hmm … the flowering trees in the ‘hood were and ARE still beautiful and blossoming.
So I decided to focus instead on getting images of cute and fuzzy goslings, though chances were slim they had already hatched and were following their parents around. After a quick tour of Heritage Park’s historical area and around Coan Lake, there were no gosling sightings, but I did find a Canada goose sitting on a nest. I mused this was the second sighting for me this year after never seeing a goose on a nest before.
But, unlike the goose on a nest at Lake Erie Metropark, this Mama goose was not out in the middle of a marsh with Papa goose guarding her and his impending family. Nope … not at all. This soon-to-be-Mama looked uncomfortable as she sat atop the big rocks at the base of the covered bridge.
Here is a photo of the covered bridge and those rocks …
… and here is Mama Goose incubating the eggs. If you look closely, you will see nesting materials beneath her belly feathers. Unfortunately there is a shadow from the bridge but this was my best and safest vantage point to take photos of her.
I knew her mate could not be far, so I dared not stray any closer to Mama and their nesting territory lest he attack me as ganders are known to do if anyone/anything strays too close to a nest. A few years ago here in Southeast Michigan, we had some young golfers out on an Oakland County course and one of them accidentally got too close to a Canada goose nest and the gander attacked him, sending him to the ground, golf bag spilling its clubs and he landed with arms and legs akimbo. Except for his wounded pride, the young man was not injured and one of his companions whipped out his phone and shot some photos of the attack, which was circulated nationally on social media. So, no … I was not going to end up as the viral video of the day because I ticked off a gander. So I stepped back a few more paces, hoping to get some shots, but of course ever mindful of an angry gander lurking nearby.
First, I observed the Missus basking in the morning sun’s rays. I obviously didn’t pose a threat to her as she glanced over, then slowly her eyes dropped to half mast, then totally closed them as you see below.
There were very few ducks about, which was very strange for early in the morning. I usually see them preening or snoozing on the grass near the seawall early in the morning. I stepped onto the covered bridge and checked out the other side … no Papa Goose, so I moved on. However, when I got ready to go home, I glanced over and there he was, under the bridge. See … I knew he was not shirking his husband responsibilities of defending his mate. Aah – all is copasetic in the goose world.
Or, so it would seem.
Stand by your man.” (But with an asterisk.)
You may remember the country western song “Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette. During the 1992 presidential race, Hillary Clinton raised the hackles of Tammy Wynette and others when she made the infamous remark “I’m not sitting here, some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette” during a “60 Minutes” interview which raised the subject of presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s indiscretions. She later apologized for her comment.
Apparently Mama Goose was of a similar mindset as the former First Lady. It was all good as Papa Goose frolicked and bathed SOLO in Coan Lake, while she was plunked down on a bed of rocks with just a layer of nesting materials between her belly and those rocks. Ouch!
In fact this soon-to-be Mama was wistful … of course she would have liked a quick bath too, but there were eggs to be incubated, turned over every so often … sigh … a woman’s work is never done.
Then things got interesting …
Another goose appeared on the scene. Through the camera lens I watched the interplay.
Note the long and intense stares, even goo-goo eyes – the body language between the two geese was incredible.
And though it is difficult to tell a male from a female Canada Goose, I’m no dummy. I was convinced this wasn’t just another “one of the boys” so I decided to hang out and enjoy this developing drama. Not only did it pique my interest but it did that of Mama Goose as well. She lifted a sleepy eye to likewise monitor the scene.
“Let’s explore underwater … who can dive the most?” this newcomer seemed to say. The gander rose to the occasion swooping down, shaking his neck and tail feathers with much fanfare.
Then he followed up those shenanigans with this impressive wing spread.
Wow – all that for the other goose. (Smile.) I am sure Mama Goose was rolling her eyes at the display, though my eyes did not dare sneak a glimpse from behind the lens, as I didn’t want to miss this drama and all the while I was clicking merrily away as the words began bubbling up in my brain for this Mother’s Day week blog post.
Since Papa Goose was um, er … occupied, I took the opportunity to grab a few shots of Mama from another angle, just about the time she decided she’d had enough. She shot a steely glance in the direction of her seemingly philandering mate, a/k/a “Mr. Charming Personality” …
… Papa Goose knew that look meant business and that his brief dalliance was over. He hastily headed over to appease his mate. I say “hastily” because he didn’t even take the time to fly up onto the grass and pick his way over to her in the rocks … he flew right up onto the rocks instead to show his mate how much he cared!
Mama Goose shifted position and quickly resumed incubating the eggs with her mate hovering nearby.
Aah – domestic bliss had been restored.
The girlfriend, er … other goose was left behind …
To be truthful, nothing happened between the geese in the water … a little frolicking was all, though the pictures seem to tell a different story, don’t they? I took liberties at the expense of this gander, because in reality, the habits of Canada Geese are quite the opposite of how I have portrayed them in this post. Canada Geese are devoted to their mates, are monogamous and will stay with their mate for life. If one of the pair dies, most go into seclusion and remain solo the remainder of their lives. During the incubation period, which lasts from 28-30 days, there is usually a clutch of five to six eggs. The gander does not assist in the actual incubation process, but instead stands by to guard his mate and the nest from any predators. The female will not leave the nest to eat, drink or bathe during this time. The gander will fiercely guard his goslings once they have hatched.
What can I say to conclude this post except to use another popular meme saying: “happy wife, happy life.”