Stonehill is home to unnaturally large population of geese.
In my three years here, I’ve never had a personal issue with any of them. Admittedly, they do poop everywhere which makes walking across campus a bit like playing hopscotch, but whatever.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people on campus who not only dislike the geese, they are actually afraid of them (I’m looking at you, AK). For the longest time I insisted that we had nothing to fear from the geese. Yes, they had an unusually high tolerance for being close to humans, but I maintained that if you just stood your ground (rather than taking alternate routes to avoid them) and ignored them, they wouldn’t bother you.
How very wrong I was.
A few days back, I happily made my way out of my res hall towards the dining hall for breakfast. It was little chilly out, I had my iPod in jamming to some Rocket Summer, when I saw him.
He stood there on the side of the path watching me advance.
Now, as I had never had a close encounter with a goose myself, I held true to my belief that if I didn’t bother him, he wouldn’t bother me. But, as I calmly continued down the path, I couldn’t help but notice that the goose seemed to be staring me down. Unafraid, I stared back. No goose was going to intimidate me. I got closer and closer, and still the goose hadn’t looked away, it was like an ironic game of chicken, waiting to see which of us would break the intense staring contest. I was mere feet from the goose, still locking eyes with him, when it happened.
He hissed at me.
I mean like a vicious, open-beaked, tongue rattling, intimidating hiss. I actually jumped back a step or two then hurriedly continued down the path, nervously glancing back at the goose who was watching me retreat.
A friend of mine happened to be coming the other way down the path and watched the exchange occur from a distance.
“Did he just hiss at you?” he asked, guessing from the way I jumped backwards.
“I’ve seen him on this path a lot.”
“Well be careful!” I warned him. He gave the goose a wide berth as be passed him.
Shaken, I indulged in some banana bread and felt a little better. For the rest of the day I thought nothing of the goose and he didn’t reappear.
The next morning, it was raining. I exited my res hall with my umbrella and immediately scanned the horizon for signs of the goose.
There he was.
He was sitting in a large puddle that had formed along the pathway, but when he looked up and saw me coming, he stood up and stared.
I moved to the far edge of the path and watched the goose as I passed him. Though he stared intently as I passed, he did not hiss. I believe this is because geese like the rain and he was happy to have a little puddle all to himself. I let out the breath I’d been holding as I passed and continued on my way.
For the next few days, the goose was nowhere to be seen. I walked to breakfast unafraid and was just starting to get complacent when he reappeared. It was Wednesday, my last day of classes before break, and I was heading to class to give a big presentation.
I wasn’t willing to risk it. If a goose attacked me, I would be in no fit state to give a twenty-minute presentation on rape as a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I’d only think about hissing as a weapon of fear on the campus of Stonehill College.
I actually stepped off the path and walked around the goose as widely as possible. Again, he watched me closely, daring me to get closer.
“Don’t you hiss at me, goose.” Yes, I was talking to a goose.
But he listened. He didn’t hiss at me and I was able to give my presentation just fine.
Later that day I packed up the car and headed home for Easter break. My friends believe that the goose that guards the path is so mean because he doesn’t have a mate. Almost all the other geese you see on campus are paired up most of the time, so this is probably a valid theory. Maybe over the break he’ll find a mate and come Tuesday morning there will be two geese sitting happily on the path, not hissing at anyone.