It’s that time of day.
It happens in the spring — at least once in the morning, at least once in the late afternoon.
Sometimes, at the very same time that motorists are returning home from work.
Suddenly, all traffic stops.
And everyone waits.
On certain streets of certain Canadian cities.
This late afternoon, on this particular street, Mother Goose leads her children across the road.
All seven of them.
A line of tiny, fluffy, yellow and tawny-coloured goslings follows her across, looking neither this way nor that, intent on doing their mother’s bidding. And she’s intent on getting to the grass on the other side of the wide road.
It’s as if those big, noisy machines weren’t even there.
As if there weren’t humans inside those machines, staring, goggle-eyed.
Staring at the almost regal procession taking place in front of them.
As if remembering that honking is for geese, and they are humans after all, no-one honks their horns as they wait. No-one shouts or displays signs of impatience and bad manners.
One motorist, a man dressed in a fine suit, has his camera handy. He quietly opens his door and steps out of the car. There’s a bemused, almost foolish smile on his face.
The stresses of his day seem completely absent as he moves slowly, quietly, so as not to disturb the birds. As if a doorway suddenly opened to a hidden world and he’s stepping into it to take a photo – for proof that he was there.
Or maybe he just plans to show his children photos of this scene. Of this moment when Mother Nature showed up on a busy Toronto street.
Or maybe to explain to his wife why he’s late.
Because now there’s a second Mother Goose. And this one has nine children. All taking their slow, sweet time to waddle across the road.
And just as the motorists think the parade is over and they can resume their drive home, along comes a third Mother Goose –and her brood. Six… no seven… no … my goodness. Ten? Yes, ten.
It’s a whole gaggle of geese.
A flock of feathered creatures.
An avian assembly.
Geese and their goslings slowly waddling and tottering across a busy road.
In line, one behind the other.
Very slowly. As if to say:
Only we are here.
Mama Goose is here. She who takes care of us children, she who keeps us safe, as long as we follow.
Meanwhile, another motorist phones home to share the news of the strange happening. His voice is raised in disbelief, even as he describes the scene.
In other cars, drivers’ bemused stares reluctantly turns to smiles.
A whole gaggle of men and women giggling, at the end of a long work day.
As if to say:
Of all the things a Toronto motorist expects on his way home from work, it’s not this.
Dedicated to drivers in every city who stop and wait for the geese at this time of year.