by Dennis Milroy
We have a delightful little park here in East County San Diego known as "Lindo lake." As lakes go it's comparably small but is much loved and often visited by the folks who live in Lakeside and the surrounding communities.
The walking path around the lake is approximately 1 1/2 miles and most of the trails are shaded by the towering trees that escort the paved and dirt path zigzagging around the water line. The lake is not deep, perhaps five feet or so, but unless you investigate, it could be a mile deep.
The lake is home to any number of wildlife: squirrels, ducks, birds of all breeds, an occasional pelican, a stray seagull or two, and a long legged crane are always present and very accustomed and unafraid of their human neighbors.
Many people use the lake and its wonderful feeling of serenity as the perfect location to get their daily exercise. On any morning dozens of people can be found walking their dogs at a leisurely pace, or the truly earnest folks who, with their head down and arms flailing, get serious in their attempt to remain fit.
All of the people have one thing in common: mostly all will smile and say "hello" as they pass in the other direction, and most are keeping a protective eye out for the pair of Canada Geese who are sitting on eggs at a narrow spot close to the walking path, next to the water.
The female spends most of her time sitting on her eggs, keeping a watch on the people passing by, and her mate stands at the edge of the path, not more than a foot from your thigh, watching everyone closely to be certain his mate is not disturbed in the slightest way.
Sometimes you will find a group of walkers taking a minute or two to pause to stand and look at the "feathered family" and admire him for being a valiant protector, and her for her devotion to her future family. They make a very handsome couple and most people are anticipating when the "big day" will arrive.
After weeks of watching these geese, and stopping to discuss and guess the gestation period, my wife and I were heartsick to walk by four days ago to see only the female, as always, sitting on her eggs, with the father nowhere to be seen. We felt a deep sadness that someone, or something could have separated these two, because we were sure he didn't leave her side voluntarily.
For the next few days we stopped to pay our respects to the Mom and I think all of us said a prayer that she would somehow be re-united with her mate, but deep inside, we felt he must have been the victim of a coyote or any number of predators that inhabited the park.
Today, when we went for our walk we once again stopped to pay our respects, and looked across the grass picnic area, and saw a wonderful sight; it was the male waddling his way across the grass, from somewhere, straight to his mate. He didn't slow down until he greeted her with what I swear was a kiss, then resumed his sentry duty by the road. As we came around the park for the second time, there he was, looking at his reflection in the bumper of a truck, picking bugs and whatnot from the grill with a satisfied look on his face.
"Where were you, old friend?" and "Welcome back."