Hansel and Gretel at Cobb Lake

Hilda Stob Prose
Summer 1978

The summer of 1978 was indeed a wonderful summer for us. It was the first time in 15 years that we saw Canada Geese on Cobb Lake. They may have touched down in previous years, but as we were summer residents, we had to return to the city in time for the start of the school year.

This summer however a family of Canada Geese came during the month of June, and it was a most thrilling sight to see them swimming in the lake in front of our cottage, a family of two adults and seven goslings, always swimming in formation. One adult at the head of the line, one at the end of the line and the young in a straight line between, from babyhood to adulthood, never challenging, always perfectly disciplined, and obeying any order from the adults instantly.

It wasn’t long before they knew that we scattered corn on the shore of the lake to feed then and they became regular visitors. We named the adult geese Hansel and Gretel and we were immensely pleased that they adopted us. One of the adults would always stand guard to sound a warning if they sensed danger of any kind while the young ones were feeding.

It is true that occasionally we wondered if it was wise for us to feed them because they did foul the yard and they did pull up the grass and make bare spots in our carefully manicured lawn, but we decided that they gave us so much pleasure that it was worth it.

There was a bit of pride mixed in it too, for these magnificent birds walking around us in our yard caused a great deal of wonder and comment among the boaters on the lake. We could hear them talking and saying that they could not believe their eyes.

The adult geese did not accept us as readily as the goslings and they would sometimes hiss at me when they thought that I came too close to their precious little ones. But I would scold them and continue talking to them, and as long as I did not make a sudden move I knew that I was safe. They finally accepted us and came up to us begging to be fed.

In fact they became so possessive of our property that it was hard to keep them contained in the part of the yard which we had assigned to them. They were very curious and insisted on walking to the top of the bank to see what was up near the cottage where we usually sat. I would try to chase them back to the lake but they often stood their ground and I would have to back track.

At the end of the summer when they were all fully grown, they were taught to fly and it was most interesting to watch their antics. They would tread water and flap their wings and talk to each other, as if daring each other to try to fly. Some would dive and swim under water for quite a distance. Some would dive and do somersaults in the water. It was like a group of children having fun, and the more we laughed the more fun they seemed to have. When they tired, they swam to shore and groomed themselves until each feather was again in place. Then at a signal they would all take to the water and swim away, again in formation.

And then one day their call must have gone out for suddenly Canada Geese came winging in from all directions. The honking could be heard from those in flight, and the answers from those already resting on the lake. One day we counted 48 of those beautiful big Geese swimming in from of our cottage. Our family of Geese were the only ones who with an arrogant look about them climbed up the shore into our yard. They seemed to be saying, “We may do this for this is our yard”. And the strange thing was that none of the new-comers dared to join them.

After about a week of resting and feeding small flocks would form and take wing and with a few parting honks would disappear over the horizon. Hansel and Gretel and their family also followed the others winging south one day.

Now we look forward to spring to see if they will return and permit us to be foster-parents again. And I can assure you we will be most pleased and proud to let them adopt us once more.