It all began 4 years ago¹.


   I was at a small yard sale (across the lake in the picture here). There was a single brass² cymbal lying on the ground, about 16 inches in diameter with a small hole in the center… and a $1 price tag.


   I didn’t know why at the moment, but I had to buy it.


   I took it home and hid it so my wife wouldn’t find it.


[More will require the DOOR…]




   “Why?” she would have asked, rolling her eyes.

   Before too long though I would have an answer.

   A problem with small lakes near migration routes for waterbirds is that when they discover a good place to “stop” for a while, they do so. Not a problem if it’s only a one-night stand or so. But during a serious cold snap it’s easy to overstay a short-term welcome. After all, the liquid water they land on is never below 32° F  (or 0° Celsius).

   For a long run of seasons, when migrating,  a thousand or more geese would land on 43-acre lake and soon take off. Of course they “seasoned” our spring-fed lake water which Nature could eventually take care of.

   Then came a time when the “bird word” got around that the mountainous Montrose area was a good place for a mini-vacation on the way to wherever. Geese would arrive in droves and hang around for a week or so. The local golf course, not super active then, would become a no-man’s land to walk across. Our lake, one of several nearby, became a five-star attraction.

   Then came the year they stayed and stayed and stayed. It was off-season, but we die-hards who remained for the best private time of the year were nonplussed about what to do. One could slip and skid off a dock if not careful. People fired a few gunshots shot fireworks but the geese wouldn’t budge.

   Then it was my turn. It was do or die.

   I brought my cymbal out of hiding, tied a knot in the end of a three-foot piece of rope, strung it through the hole in the center, grabbed a short piece of kindling for a club, climbed in my kayak that I’d launched, and aimed the prow of the boat toward the center of 599 Canada geese³. As I neared the edge of the giant flock I stopped paddling, and went to war with my cymbal. Cutting through the middle, the floating birds divided into three masses. The ones straight ahead took off honking, and seeing that I was now paddling again and following lickety-split. Immediately, they took off and flew over the hill out of sight.

   But one-third had turned and headed toward the “left” side of the lake and came down for a water landing out of the way. The remaining one-third headed “right” and did the same thing. They were almost out of sight if you weren’t looking for them. Putting my cymbal down, I paddled furiously toward those on the left. Approaching them, I let go with my club and cymbal again, and off they flew over the mountain that rose before them. If those on the right thought they were safe, they were badly mistaken! It was a long, bone-weary trip to where they’d landed, but there was a fire in my belly. Bang, clash, wah-oh, wah-oh, clang, clang, clang, and they, too, disappeared–and none came back.

   In fact, since that day never have large numbers of Canada geese ever returned–at least when I’ve been at the lake. Perhaps if a human message had been given, and the message received by those in feathers, migrating Canada geese, not dumb birds really, had passed it on making it a part of goose folklore. As to human history, it works! And to any easily offended humans, no geese were hurt in the making of this story. And further, I no longer have to hide my cymbal.

   I was thankful afterwards for two things: (1) The birds had not seen Alfred Hitchcock’s movie that was named after them, and (2) my ears stopped ringing before lunch.

   How sound travels through and off the top of water should rate a post some day…


   ¹ I may be off a year or so…

   ² It looked like brass anyway, but I can’t be sure…When struck it gives a commanding sound.

   ³ No, I didn’t exactly count them, but 600 might suggest I exaggerated…