Wild goose chase

July 19, 2018

Screen shot 2018-07-19 at 5.25.09 PMMy workday starts at 6:45 a.m. when the shuttle bus drops me off at Sunnybrook hospital with my co-worker, whom I will call Francesca. The crew at the Grounds department of the hospital unlocks the workshop door (where we keep our boots and tools) at 7 a.m.

So from 6:45 to 7 we have our “morning meeting” at a picnic table on the grass near the main loading docks and discuss our day. We are both Master of Forest Conservation graduate students, and Sunnybrook has hired us for the summer to assess the health of its forests. Sunnybrook, the largest hospital in Canada, boasts 12,000 employees, and thousands of trees.
Often when we arrive we see nearby what Francesca calls the “stupid geese.” They are a family, parents and seven goslings, though by now the young ones are so big it’s tough to tell them from the grownups. The geese are the bane of the Grounds department’s existence (or maybe a make-work project); everyday one employee is on “goose poop” detail. Rohan Harrison, who runs Grounds, has devised a mobile unit on a small vehicle with a pressure-washer and a tank for water, to wash goose poop from Sunnybrook’s many pathways.
Francesca fears all fowl, including geese, and in fact I’ve had the Papa goose hiss at me when I walk too close. But this morning when we arrived we saw just one goose, wandering about, honking plaintively. The silly goose had clearly become separated from the family and could not find them. She waddled about on the lawns and roadways and parking lots, turning her head side to side and calling out to the others, but with no success.
I began, perhaps irrationally, to identify with the lost goose. I remember when I was a teen and I left home because I didn’t feel that anyone loved me, and I wandered for a long time. Francesca looked at the goose.
“I think we should try to find her family and reunite them,” she said.
Sunnybrook is a vast place; I went to one area and did not find them. My cell phone rang.
“I found them,” Francesca said. “They are over by M wing.”
Screen shot 2018-07-19 at 5.26.29 PMSo I went back to the lone goose and, clapping my hands, I herded the goose through the various pathways and parking lots and, finally, reunited her with her family.
Scott, who works in the Grounds department, came up.
“Good job,” he said. “You guys can go home now.”
But it was only 8 a.m. We still had  full day to go, assessing trees.
I suppose we all get separated from our pack from time to time. It’s nice to reunite.