Ginny didnt know if it was a large pond or a small lake in
the middle of the beautiful park where she had been hired right after high
school to help with maintenance of the grounds. Now, however, her duties had
been expanded beyond cutting the grass and weeding the unending flower beds.
Now she had been tasked with collecting goose eggs from the nests around the
pond. None of her co-workers envied her getting this assignment. It wasnt
as easy as it sounded.
Years ago migrating Canada Geese had begun stopping in the park
and some of them liked it so much they stayed, establishing homes, if you will,
around the water. They built nests, laid eggs and produced quite a large flock
of beautiful geese.
In the beginning, the people who used the park recreationally or
ate lunch there to get away from the office enjoyed the geese. But now the
number of birds had grown so great and their droppings had become so numerous,
people began to view them as an aggravation. Stepping in all the droppings had
become a problem. And during nesting season, protective ganders would sometimes
attack anyone who unknowingly wandered near one of the nests.
Various efforts had been made at times to get the geese to leave
but nothing humane had worked. Hunters were quite willing to come to the park
and take home dinner but animal lovers, a large group, made this impossible.
And even those who were not active in animal rights didnt like the idea
of killing the geese. As a result, putting poison in goose treats was another
option never considered.
So the geese stayed and their numbers grew. The local government
council, facing another election, knew they had to do something but had no idea
what to do. So they called for a public meeting of their constituents, hoping
it might lead to some consensus as to what should be done to reduce the number
of geeseif not all of them.
The meeting was very well attended. The hall was packed with
people quite willing to speak out.
Smash the eggs before they hatch, a fellow in bib
overalls and a plaid shirt said.
Dont bother the geese, a librarian said.
Dont smash the eggs, a young girl pleaded when
she got her turn at the microphone.
It became obvious that consensus as to what action to take would
be difficult to reach. The citizens were sharply divided in two
groupsthose weary of stepping in droppings and being attacked by ganders
and those who wanted the geese left alone because they were so beautiful.
Before the meeting ended, however, a compromise was reached. A
member of the park staffand that would be young Ginnywould be
assigned during nesting season to collect the eggs as soon as possible after
they had been laid. She would then bring them back to her work bench and use a
special light bulb to candle them and determine if life had begun. If it
hadnt, she would throw the eggs out. If life had begun, she would hurry
the eggs back to the nest so the goose could sit on them until they hatched.
Collecting the eggs, Ginny discovered, was not as easy as it
might sound to someone who had never done it. Angry ganders were a problem when
she approached a nest even when the mother-to-be for a moment wasn't sitting on
the eggs. Just trying to determine if there were any eggs in a nest would often
bring Ginny in contact with a gander determined to bite her.
Eventually, Ginny would manage to get to the eggs when both
parents were gone, however momentarily, from the nest. She would hurry back to
her work bench, candle the eggs to see if life had begun, throw out the
infertile eggs and then dash back to the nests with any eggs that showed life.
It wasnt difficult to know which eggs had life. And clear eggs were easy
to detect as well.
Fellow workers would often tease Ginny about her job, asking why
she threw out the clear eggs, suggesting instead that she save them to make a
giant omelette for lunch.
Ginny hadnt thought about that and she really didnt
know if it would be possible. But she had often thought about how much trouble
it would have been at the clinic if the staff had to candle hersince
Ginny was a big girl--three months after her senior prom. It would have been an
even bigger problem if Roy, her steady boyfriend for three years, had been as
protective of his offspring as a gander.