At almost every holiday or revered season, there is a representative animal.
At Thanksgiving, it's the turkey. At Christmas, the reindeer. At Easter, it is the bunny. At Halloween, it's all the humans dressed up as animals. Heck, at Halloween, even dogs, who already are animals, dress up like some other animal.
And in spring in Bloomington-Normal, it is ... the geese.
We’re talking real, live geese here.
In spring, the geese here are forever laying eggs and then roosting all over — in the Shoppes at Colleges Hills parking lot, in front of the Kroger on College, among the flower beds or dormitory ledges at Illinois State University, in the parking lot in front of the maternity ward at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center.
Yes, Mother Goose likes to live next to the maternity ward!
At a Flanagan State Bank branch along East Washington in Bloomington, a goose gal and guy this spring have been roosting next to an ATM.
"Mama Goose has been protecting her eggs while Papa Goose chases anyone who dares approach," says Mandolyn Mackenzie at the bank. "The eggs hatched and we now have proud parents of seven little goslings in our ATM and drive-thru."
Of all the animals in God's kingdom, geese surely are among the weirdest.
Perfectly capable of flying gracefully and beautifully, they instead often defiantly wade out into heavy traffic and try to cross busy streets, like Towanda Avenue or GE Road, in an uber-slow, wobbly swagger. Once across, they get up on the sidewalk, forming a goose gauntlet — a Goose Island, if you will!
If you challenge them, they will hiss, lurch, honk, run at you, even fly down and snap at you.
To those folk who live on solid land not near a lake or pond, geese are generally considered beautiful animals, subjects of postcards, wall calendars, concrete lawn statues, front-porch ornaments.
But to those who live near water, geese can become one of the very first four-letter words to ever be spelled with five.
It can eventually lead to a war of sorts.
If, as an example, you frequent Eastland Pharmacy along Eastland Drive on B-N’s pond-infatuated east side, there is a big fake white swan out front. There's a fake white swan at the CEFCU office along East Empire, too.
These are not out of beauty, or inspiration, or trying to woo their pharmaceutical needs or interest in perhaps making a bank deposit.
It’s to keep away the geese!
They don’t like swans and will stay away.
At Bloomington Country Club last summer, they actually “hired” two real white swans, just to swim around in the golf course’s lakes. Members say, while some geese still annoyed golfers, it was better than before.
Another issue with geese is their messiness.
I hesitate to get overly graphic at this late stage of life, but I live near a lake in an area where geese like to congregate. Based upon my daily observations, here is the life cycle of your average goose: hatch, walk, swim, eat grass, honk, fly, poop, poop, poop, poop, poop, poop, poop, but not necessarily in that order.
Their bathroom habits are abysmal, like a fraternity of un-potty-trained 2-year-olds after an all-night bender of strained carrots, eggs and too much applesauce.
Inexplicably they also (the geese, not your 2-year-old) love to use as their bathroom repository your patio or walk.
If you live in an area that has a lake or pond and has a paved trail around the water, the problem is you can’t walk on the trail most of the year because of the (please re-read that sentence three paragraphs ago).
This year as an example, in an attempt to cut down on all of the above, Bloomington's Hawthorne II subdivision on the far-east side has purchased four "anti-goose" lights that sit on the water in the neighborhood lake and blink and allegedly will keep the geese away.
And yet the worst part?
Geese have six or seven kids at a time. Thus, if one year you have two geese, the next year you will have nine geese. And the next year, 63. And the next year, 1,396. By year four, it’s like Portillo’s parking lot on ISU homecoming weekend.
Yes, that said, here is a final comment: For the last few years, it seems as if all we’ve heard about in America is a wall along Mexico.
This not being a political column, I’m also not going to get into that.
But President Trump … if you’d instead mull a huge net draped along, say, Wisconsin, to keep the Canadian Geese up in Canada ... mercy, just the thought gives me — well — goose bumps.
Otherwise, our goose may be cooked.