You may know my mother, the estimable Monique, as the take-no-prisoners architectural historian, as the Maven of Fenestration, as the Correct Color tsarina and as the Ray Kroc of omelettes, but there is another side to her, a dark underbelly to all that sweetness and light, and just the other day that sinister side broke through the surface and shook her neighbors on Fulling Mill Pond to their very core.
Let’s just say it: Monique is a rabid anseri-phobe.
And her exquisite front lawn & gardens - not to mention her back lawn, orchard and surrounding fields – lure all the geese in a 50-mile radius, just as the Amazonian highlands lure seekers of hallucinations and insect-borne diseases.
Geese come to my mother’s lawn and nibble the greenery and leave their squirts of greenish goo. They honk incessantly. They honk without melody or rhythm. They defy her inhospitality. She shouts at them, cursing in French and Arabic. She waves her arms and stamps her feet. Upon waking in the morning you look outside to the perfect lawn extending far out back to the stone wall and the woods beyond. And littering, speckling, and ruining that perfect lawn will be dozens of geese, a gaggle as they are called on the ground. In the air they are called a skein or a wedge, but they are too fat or lazy to fly. And why should they, when the pickings are so delicious on my mother’s lawn?
So the other night we were having cocktails when we noticed an unusually large gaggle of geese on the front lawn. Monique decided to take up arms. She took out her slingshot, which is technically called a wrist rocket & was the gift of one of her bellicose sons, and went in search of projectiles. Specifically, she looked for pistachios. She told me she usually shoots pistachio nuts at the geese.
“Huh? Could this explain why you still have so many geese?” I asked.
“Of course not.”
But there were no pistachio nuts. I suggested pebbles. No, rocks. Rocks as large as possible, given that the idea is to injure the geese and discourage their tenure.
“We don’t have any rocks,” my mother said.
“This is New England,” I said. “Of course you have rocks.”
“Not on my lawn.”
So she went in search of artillery, and returned with a bag of gourmet pasta. Penne pasta. Then, holding the bag of penne pasta between her front teeth and armed with her wrist rocket, she went out to the front lawn and began shooting at the geese.
I cannot say for certain whether she actually hit a goose, but her shooing and shouting and Arabic imprecations did in fact move the geese from the lawn down towards the street. (Fulling Mill Pond is across the street, and if the geese have to be anywhere, they should be in the pond rather than the lawn.) The geese began crossing the street, and as sometimes happens on country roads, the cars driving by slowed down and then stopped to allow the geese to cross the road.
This infuriated my mother. To have gone to all this trouble to banish the geese, and then to have them coddled by namby-pamby animal-loving drivers, seemed profoundly unfair.
“Don’t slow down,” she shouted. “Run them over. Look what they’ve done.”
But the cars slowed and stopped, and the geese took their sweet time crossing the road.
“Step on the gas!” my mother urged them. “”Look at my driveway.” And indeed her driveway was as redolent of green & white-flecked squirts as a newly daubed Abstract Expressionist masterpiece.