Birds hate me.
I don’t know anyone who is more tormented by birds than I am.
Don’t most people go through their lives without even giving much thought to birds? I know that’s how I used to be.
Who could possibly be afraid of birds? They just fly around from tree to tree. They don’t bother people. They aren’t mean or menacing.
Unless you are me.
You might remember my first terrifying incident with THE birds. I was innocently trying to walk to the CVS Pharmacy when a bird decided to whack me in the head repeatedly. That is when I became deathly afraid of birds.
Each spring when I hear the birds start to chirp in the trees, a fear grows in my heart. I try not to think about the birds. I try to block them from my mind. But I find myself spontaneously ducking for cover if I hear one screech.
I thought that perhaps I was no longer a target of THE birds. It’s been several years since I’ve had any bird incidents. In fact, I tried to ignore the five hawks hovering over my house a few weeks ago. I didn’t even get upset by the owl sitting on top of my house a couple of nights ago. I tried not to take these things personally. I tried to believe they were just coincidences. That THE birds weren’t after me.
That’s until my run-in yesterday with a goose.
I took my kiddos to one of the first places on MY summer bucket list. It was this adorable Japanese Tea Garden that I’ve been wanting to visit for the past year.
The place is only open two afternoons a week during the warm months of the year. It’s about a 45-minute drive.
So working this into our schedule to make it there during the three-hour window that it’s open wasn’t easy. I had to time it just right to get there without the 3-year-old falling asleep in the car. And I had to bribe everyone with milkshakes to let me take their photos.
As we were leaving, it started to rain. We were running down the path to the van. They boys took the keys and sprinted ahead. My older daughter decided to give the 3-year-old a piggy back ride. I was strolling along about five yards behind them.
That’s when a flock of geese decided to cross the path between the girls and me. The largest goose of the bunch started walking toward me. I stopped, not sure what to do.
It was coming at me with a very determined look on its goose face. I stopped.
It took a step toward me, glaring at me. I took a step back. It took another step toward me.
I tried stomping. Clapping. Yelling.
It moved toward me again, forcing me to back up.
I told myself to be brave.
It wasn’t fazed. It just kept coming toward me.
It was raining harder, and I was walking backward. I would have to run past dozens of geese to escape on either side.
I was quickly going through the files of my memory banks trying to come up with the answer of what to do in this situation. What is the correct way to handle a mad goose that refuses to let you walk down a path? Hadn’t I learned this at some point in my life? I knew I shouldn’t try to outrun a bear. I had recently learned an alligator can run 35 miles an hour.
But what about a goose?!? What did I know about a goose?!?
Now, my 3-year-old, who was separated from her mama by a mad goose, was crying.
The rain. The mad goose. The crying.
My head was spinning. What should I do?
Finally, my 8-year-old daughter saved the day. She came running to the side of the goose, distracting it just long enough for me to zig zag around it. My daughter later informed me that my zig zag was the key to my survival. She recently attended a reptile birthday party and learned that if you are ever being chase by a crocodile that you should run in a zig zag. The same is true of an elephant. Maybe she learned this at her field trip to the zoo. I don’t know.
I’m definitely going to file that one away in my memory banks. So far, I don’t seem to be loathed by reptiles or large mammals, but you never know.
So, what’s the moral of this story? Yes. There is a moral.
Next time you see someone’s photos of a beautiful garden, just remember that a photo doesn’t always tell the whole story. They might not have taken a photo of their whining child. Or the mean woman who didn’t want to unlock the gate. Or the harsh instructions to stay only on the path. Or the goose.
The mad, mean goose.
Years later, someone might find her lovely photos and think about the wonderful day she had in that idyllic garden. Little will they know that every time she looks at the photos, she is tormented by her fear of birds. And she reminds herself to zig zag.
Yes, zig zag.