Thursday, June 20, 2024
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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Age is the great leveler of both human and animal behavior. Personalities can evolve, indeed morph, into new patterns that often bear little, if any, resemblance to their former selves. 

At present we are witnessing that transformation with Gladys. Fifteen years have passed since Michelle Simmons gave her to us to be a consort to Lou, a truly beloved gander, who had been a present from Tom Teeples and his late wife, Paula.   

In her early days here, Gladys never stopped honking, paid no attention to anyone else in the barnyard, save for those occasions when she thought another occupant was getting into what she considered to be her food, and hers alone. After Lou’s passing three years ago, she was alone, goose-wise, until the arrival of Henry a year-and-a-half ago, but even more important than the coming of Henry was that of Quack, a Khaki Campbell drake, who talks enough for all the fowl, thus his name.

As I previously mentioned, Gladys and Quack have bonded more tightly that she and Lou or Henry ever did. I cannot discern whether it is the commonality of their web feet, or whether she thinks of him as an understudy, or whether courtship is involved. It is all very mysterious. These days, Gladys rarely honks.

Her motions are no longer helter-skelter, and in the transformation, she has assumed an aura of regality, parading around with her head held high, enjoying the bowing and scraping of Quack in her wake. In midafternoon when she takes her siesta, her head remains aloft, with a dismissive air for all around her.

Henry does not appear to mind her presumptive manner, being totally human-oriented. He has not comprehended why he must live with this bunch of fowl; I do not use the word, “gaggle,” he and Gladys are the only resident geese, the other barnyard residents being ducks and chickens. He never has been able to focus on the difference between himself and a dog or a cat, or, I daresay, even one who is human. He seeks the companionship of people, rather than being petted, nor does he not want to be picked up by anyone. 

The most recent additions to the circle of fowl are Huey, Dewey and Louie, three domestic Mallard drakes, now with us for the last three months. Initially, they were reserved and shy, but of late they are making their presence more pronounced. Unlike Quack, they are intimidated a bit by Gladys, but then again what intelligent fowl would not be? They speak softly, compared to Quack that is.

They are not heavy eaters, but they go through water almost as fast as I can supply it. As they continue to mature and assert themselves, I am thinking of changing their names to Athos, Porthos and Aramis, the names of Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers. I am speculating that they also might come to exhibit the same sycophantic behavior towards Gladys that Quack does. At this point, Quack has chosen to ignore their arrival.

Dame Patricia Routledge commented many years ago that she had enjoyed playing the role of Hyacinth Bucket, pronounced “Bouquet,” on the British sitcom, “Keeping Up Appearances,” because Hyacinth was the type of person she found particularly fascinating. In a similar vein, I have enjoyed watching the transformation of Gladys’s personality in recent months. Whether the change has been due to her increasing age or not, it has been a noteworthy development. 

The oldest goose on record lived to be 102. I anticipate Gladys going on indeterminately, condescending to acknowledge her associates when she wishes, and deigning to accept me as her food and water boy.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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