On a very warm day, many years ago, our family decided to go along with the plans we made a few days earlier. The weather forecast should have kept us home in the air conditioning or off by a lake somewhere, but we accepted that we would end up sticky and grouchy. We discovered that how we felt at the end of that day had nothing to do with the weather.
We started out early, and by the time we walked outside our shadows were hiding right underneath us. There wasn’t a bit of a breeze to cool us along the Northern Trail of the Minnesota Zoo. Dad and I happily took turns pushing the two younger kids in the stroller while Laura led the way. We enjoyed being able to see the animals outside even though the indoor part of the zoo was so much cooler. Some of the animals were hiding, and we guessed they were hiding from the sun. Sometimes we had to follow the crowd as people excitedly pointed to a bear, tiger or lion, gazelle, pronghorn or bison.
When we were about three-quarters of the way around the trail, we were eager to be finished. At first we thought it was cute when we saw some baby Canadian honkers in the middle of our path. We kept walking until we got hissed at by the mother bird. She only kept her distance if we kept ours. Except, we didn’t have much of a choice of keeping our distance. We felt like the sun was melting us, and the path was a narrow one. There was no way off veering off it because it was bordered by trees and fences, or an angry bird protecting her nest. We were not in a mood to turn around and go back the way we came.
Dad walked in the direction that we wanted to go while the rest of us stayed back, watched and waited. The mother bird hissed even louder. Her head bounced up and down which made her neck curve in unusual directions. When she bent her head down as if she was going to go in attack mode, Dad came back to join us. Her protective squawks were enough to make a person cry and that’s just what four of the five of us did. It looked like Dad was the only brave one and would have to save the rest of us from a very protective mom.
Dad plotted his strategy and decided to carry each kid over to safety. First, he lifted Laura and ran along the path. The mother bird still kept up her loud squawk. The baby birds moved back and stayed behind their mother. Laura waited safely on the path all by herself while Dad went to get Katie. Katie waited with Laura when Dad went to get Matt. I bravely waited by myself holding tightly onto the stroller. I didn’t even dare to walk by myself. I waited for Dad to walk the path with me.
We were relieved and happy when we were all back together again. A lot of other people had to do the same thing. No one wanted to turn around. We wondered why the zoo didn’t move the geese so that the people didn’t have to get so spooked. Maybe the zoo keepers were just afraid of the geese as we were. We were too tired to worry too much about that, but we knew that mother bird was doing exactly the same thing that we were doing: trying to keep our family together and safe! It was good that Dad was with us because he saved the day!
When we got to our car with our tears all dried away, we wished we would have taken the monorail! Little did we know that a squawking mom could lead us to tears.
Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten. ~David Ogden Stiers