The run where I was nearly the victim of an avian mob hit.
One day recently I was out for an easy run and decided to add a lap on the dirt trail around the lake. Usually this would have been harmless, but I’d forgotten that it was spring, meaning that the local birds would be in full-tilt parental protection mode.
There I was, trotting along, probably imagining that I was either an Olympian, a famous country singer, or Oguchi Onyewu’s girlfriend, when I realized I’d run right into a trap.
Canada geese. I was surrounded. Mean Canada geese. Geese hissing and doing that angry neck bobbing thing. Geese waddling. Geese spitting. Geese looking like the Sopranos getting ready to whack me and leave me swimming with the fishies.
I ran thirty feet in the other direction, hoping to find a hole in their formation, but their defenses were tight. Desperately, I turned around again. Then – a miracle – like the parting of the Red Sea, the geese grew momentarily negligent of their tightening circle of torture, and I saw an opening.
My mind strayed vaguely to the scene in A Christmas Story when the waiter gleefully hacks off the dinner goose’s neck and Ralphie’s mom screams. There was no time to waste, so I summoned all the grace of a knock-kneed juvenile moose (yes, moose, not goose) and bolted, while yelping and employing a few haphazard hurdling attempts.
Now there’s a bit of a karmic back-story at work here that may have earned me this frightening goose encounter. Geese were always defecating on the docks and frequenting the waters that I rowed with my college crew. In a story for another day, I once nearly beheaded a goose with my oar during practice while rowing in the bow seat, and had felt nominally guilty about it ever since, wondering what the shell-shocked animal made of the experience.
(Hitting geese was actually pretty common. Several times per season, you’d hear a few thunderous THWACKS as the bow or two-seat accidentally thumped the neck of some unsuspecting goose who had just been going about his business, you know, paddling along and occasionally pausing to decorate the dock with repulsive gooey messes.)
Now I know exactly what that goose did after I nearly decapitated him that time on the lake: he flew right back to his posse of dirty goose cronies and started plotting his revenge, which resulted in the aforementioned gathering of long-necked mite-infested avian Mafioso during my run.
Better luck next time, you feathery villains.