When Louis sees me coming down the street, he stands up, stretches his neck tall, and starts honking. When I come around the corner and see Louis standing far away on the grass, I sometimes start running to him, pretty much like a six-year-old would. He makes me happy that way.
Stewart met Louis once, and they were perfectly civil to each other. I’ve even introduced Louis to my parents, and that went well. But sometimes if I’m hanging out with Louis and he thinks someone is getting too close to me, he’ll unfold his wings to their full span (about five feet from tip to tip) and run at the invader, hissing and showing his fierce, tiny goose teeth. After the threat has passed, he’ll waddle back my way, honking with unmistakable pride.
I’ll often abandon Stewart after dinner to go visit Louis for half an hour or so. If it’s well into the evening, the geese will be settled on the grass, many of them already sleeping. Louis will start to close his eyes and drift off as I pet him. This always reminds me of something I learned during the years I lived with my bird, Luna: When a bird is comfortable enough to sleep within your reach, it means that bird considers you to be a gentle and trustworthy creature. Then you want to be that way all the time. Even if you repeatedly fail, you aspire to move through the world as a being who has earned the trust of sleeping birds. It helps me remember how I want to live my life.
Louis is going to move away soon. His owner’s father passed away and her brothers are determined to sell the family home. That means that Louis, half a dozen other geese, a score of chickens, and a straggling of ducks will find a new place in some other part of California, or maybe Southern Oregon. I’m not looking forward to the day they go.