Wild Goose Chase

When I was in Little League a hundred years ago, like every kid, I fancied myself a star shortstop, the most glamorous position on the diamond other than the pitcher.   A couple of things doomed that dream.  In addition to my diminutive size no one ever suggested I could improve my athletic chances by pumping some iron.  So I was the perfect poster boy for a 98-pound weakling.  My coaches very quickly determined I did not have the arm strength to play shortstop; so they moved me to second base where the throw to first base is much shorter.  

I was reminded of that experience this week and also learned what a “wild goose chase” is all about.  I came home from running errands one afternoon to find two Canadian geese floating on our quarter-acre pond as if they owned it.  I like birds, just not messy, nasty ones; so as I have done in the past I set about inviting said geese to move on to other water.  There are several other ponds in our neighborhood; so this seemed like a simple request.  All they had to do was fly across the road and they would have several other lovely ponds to choose from.  

When the geese ignored my suggestion that they move on I escalated my efforts, clapping my hands and raising my voice as I walked toward the pond.  They literally turned their backs on me and calmly paddled toward the other side of the pond.  To understand distances involved you need to know that it is about 40 yards or 120 feet across our pond.  By comparison the distance from deep short stop to first base on a Little League field is maybe 80 feet.  I point that out because last year when unwanted geese on our pond ignored my most persuasive rhetoric I found that throwing a small rock in their general direction was enough to get them to fly away.  I didn’t try to hit them, just scare them, and it worked.  That was last year.  This week when I tried that tactic the first stone I threw didn’t travel 40 feet before falling weakly into the drink.  

So I began circling the pond trying to scare the birds away and/or to get closer so I could frighten them with a rock splashing in their vicinity.  As I circled the pond the geese just kept calmly paddling around the pond away from me, and every effort I made at throwing a rock was feebler than the last.  After completely circumnavigating the pond, I was no closer to the dirty birds that when I started, and I swear I heard them laughing at me.  

And that got me wondering about where else that shows up in my life?  What other frustrating pursuits do I waste my time on? How about you?  Are there wild goose chases you need to give up? 

One thought on “Wild Goose Chase

  1. Enjoyed this “wild goose chase” story, Steve. One that comes to mind from my life was the kite I tried to fly for my son when he was only about 2 (part of the wile goose chase was that I was determined to do “neat parenting things” with my son before he was old enough to appreciate them; in retrospect I think that I was as eager to prove myself a good parent as I was to *actually* parent well for whatever age my son was at the time). I ran back and forth across the field, and the kite went nowhere. With each attempt I think that I ran a little harder, trying to be a little faster, as if I could create enough breeze to lift the kite. Results: nada. After one of my many failed attempts, the kite landed very near my 2-year old son, who reached down, picked it up, held it aloft—and the winds took it skyward! I laughed ruefully at my crazy running back and forth vs the beauty of my son’s cooperation with the wind at just the right moment. That was about 37 years ago! I’m trying to think of a current “wild goose chase” that I might need to give up. I’ll keep thinking about it! Thanks for this enjoyable post. I do want to add, however: what’s so terrible about geese? The folks at my condos (where we have a pond that sounds slightly largely than yours) use all kinds of shenanigans to try to chase away the geese. I’m delighted for this sign of life in an otherwise somewhat sterile condo environment. My Dad was always in awe of geese; he had read somewhere that they are nature’s most efficient recycler of minerals: eat the grass, poop the grass moments later in a form that pulls nutrients from the roots to the top of the soil. I have enjoyed reminiscing with you today via your blog!

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