My parents were into birding.
When they came to Arizona to visit me, we would always stop at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve to see what birds were there.
I fell in love with the place, so went there on my own too.
People fish in the front pond. Unfortunately, they can be careless when doing so.
I was walking past the front pond, to get towards the back of the preserve, where the better birds hang out, when I heard something in the bushes.
I turned to look and there was a white goose flapping around.
I stepped off the path and tried to get a closer look.
The goose was tangled in about a hundred yards of fishing line. It was wrapped around her neck, her wings, her legs. She was almost immobilized from the nearly invisible line.
I checked my pocket and found that I had brought my trusty red Swiss Army Knife.
I found the tiny scissors and flipped them out of the red handle.
Then I slowly approached the panicked bird.
I have to admit, I was kind of terrified. I’ve heard stories about how viscous geese can be. But I couldn’t let the goose stay trapped in the fishing line. She would die for sure. It was tightening around her neck at a frightening rate.
She honked at me and tried to get away. But the fishing line was also horribly tangled in a nearby sage bush, holding her in place. She thrashed around, pulling the fishing line tighter.
I squatted down next to her and the first thing she did was bite me on the shoulder.
I held my ground and she bit me twice more.
It didn’t hurt.
I was wearing a light jacket over a thick sweatshirt on that chilly morning, so it cushioned her bites.
“Go ahead,” I said. “Bite me, if it makes you feel better. I’m trying to help.”
I cooed to the bird and told her it was going to be okay. I knew she couldn’t understand me, but it made me feel better. My hands were shaking and I prayed that I wouldn’t injure her with my help.
I snipped the first few lines that led to her neck. As she felt the line loosen she stopped biting me. She honked loudly and tried to scramble away, but she was still too tangled to get anywhere.
I cut the fishing line wherever I could find a place to cut.
I heard movement behind me and looked to see her mate walking around the bush from the pathway.
He saw me with my arms around his girl and he rushed me. Wings outstretched to make himself look bigger, he honked and hissed horribly and charged at me. He skid to a halt in the dirt behind me and started his attack.
I tried to keep cutting the fishing line, but now I was being bit over and over from behind.
Luckily, the goose was focusing on the hood of my sweatshirt as it dangled behind me and most of the bites were focused there.
I kept trying to free the downy white goose in front of me. The more fishing line I cut, the calmer she got.
She wrapped her neck around my shoulder and honked loudly. It was extremely loud, but then, she laid her head on my back.
The other goose stopped attacking and I kept cutting.
The goose was a lot heavier than she looked as she relaxed into me and almost fell into my lap as I continued cutting the layers of fishing line from her body.
The goose behind me attacked me again, only to be scolded by the one I was helping with a loud honk over my shoulder. He stopped in his tracks and just watched.
When I finally cut the last piece of line that was around the bird, she shook herself with relief.
She stood in front of me and looked into my eyes. I reached out and pet her head and then she laid her head on my shoulder again.
She lifted her head, honked at her mate, and the two of them walked down to the water.
I watched as they swam away.I focused my attention on the rest of the fishing line. I spent the next 10 minutes untangling the mess from the sage bush and cutting it loose.
There was a trash can a few feet away, so I stuffed all of it down in the can, deep, so that no other hapless animals would get stuck in it again.
I heard a mass of honking and I looked back out to the water.
The whole flock of geese were swimming towards me.
I hung out with them for a few minutes at the edge of the water and then they decided to be on their way.
For a couple years after that, every time I went to the Preserve, if those geese were there, they would swim to shore and walk with me along the path.
The one I rescued would sit in my lap if I sat down on the ground and the rest would sit around me and we’d just hang out for a while.
They had become my friends.
The people who walked past on the trail called me the Goose Lady.
Born and raised in California, Judy Lunsford now lives in Arizona with her husband and Giant Schnoodle, Amos. She is a former library clerk and struggles with a chronic illness and is living with cancer. Judy writes mostly fantasy, but occasionally delves into other genres. She has written books and short stories for all ages. She likes playing RPG’s and drinking lots of coffee.