Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Sometimes all it takes is catching a glimpse of pure innocence to remind us of what is important in life: We are all connected; all life is sacred.
As far back as I can remember, I felt deeply for all living creatures, from the tiny ants making ant hills in the sidewalk cracks, to the baby bird pushed out of its nest before it could fly. As a child, I was afraid of spiders, but in no way willing to have the life stomped or squished out of them. I just wanted my dad to remove them kindly from my room in a tissue, and release them outside where they could be free, and I could sleep. Now, I don't even take them outside; I simply greet them with a smile and a blessing and thank them for the visit.
My team at work used to scratch their heads when I would shout, "don't kill it, don't kill it," and "sweep up a stray bug into my hands," and transport them outside, saving them from certain fate. They used to laugh at me (the crazy bug person). Now some of them report back to me on the bugs and spiders they didn’t squish over the weekend. How they too carried and released the bug outside! This response is why I try to live my values out loud in all aspects of my life, because you never know when you might be able to influence someone to look at the world from a new perspective. So, it should be no surprise to anyone who truly knows me, I invited a baby goose to several of my meetings at Ford Motor Company a few years back.
I caught a glimpse of a tiny fluff of yellow, and then I was past it. My mind raced as I asked myself, “was that a baby duck about to step off the curb into 6 lanes of morning rush hour traffic?!”
That day began like many others, with me making my way from a suburb north of Detroit to Dearborn. I had long since given up stressing about the 90+ minute commute; I simply leaned into the rather long drive, having claimed it as "me time." My journey often included a stop for a coconut milk mocha, some driving meditation, a little "breath of fire," and tuning into an audio book. On this day there was rain, and the atmosphere was gray and blustery. As I was making my way up 6 lanes of divided highway, I caught a glimpse of a tiny fluff of yellow, and then I was past it. My mind raced as I asked myself, “was that a baby duck about to step off the curb into 6 lanes of morning rush hour traffic?!”
My heart began to pick up the pace as I swung my car around at the next available Michigan left, driving as fast as possible, (which was painfully slow in rush hour traffic and rain). I actively willed myself to get me there in time, pushing away images of failing to help this yellow, tiny burst of life. As I scanned the curb, approaching the area where I saw the yellow, my eyes caught it, as it stepped off the curb, RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY VEHICLE! I stopped my car, holding up my hand to the all vehicles around me, scooping up a tiny duckling that fit nicely into the palm of one hand, (that later turned out to be a new born Canadian Goose). It was so soft. Its little flippers were so malleable. I had always imagined duck feet as rough and hard, like scales or leather. Instead these black tiny flippers were warm, and baby-bottom soft. I was surprised. I was even more surprised as I got in my seat and started driving. Besides holding up traffic, I found myself holding a baby duck in my hand and wondering, now what do I do?
That thought had not occurred to me until that moment, as I resumed my commute with a miniature passenger chirping on my lap. I pulled over to give it some thought; “I can't drive to Dearborn and bring a baby duck into the office. I need to find this guy’s parents.” Despite the fact I am now running ridiculously behind schedule, and my commute averages an hour and thirty minutes this time of morning, and even though I have a meeting with a Ford executive – I drove my car back to the parking lot of the large grocery store near where I found this tiny, soft, warm, beautiful creature. Getting out of the vehicle, I held him up to my face, carefully surveying this little package of pure love and light. On impulse I gave him a kiss on the top of his downy baby duck head, noting with a tinge of sadness that we would soon be parting ways. As I held him, I took it all in. This is life. I felt connected to him on every level of my being.
As I took in my surroundings, I noticed a large retention pond out behind the store and began searching for his derelict parents. Even though it was raining. Even though I was aerating the grass with my better pair of black work heels. I trudged through the rain and mud around the enormous pond looking for anyone that might match up with this little being. I saw an assortment of geese and ducks, but not one with a family of little ones. It was about this time it occurred to me the water fowl appeared to be looking at me like I was a crazy person. I was admittedly, having very similar thoughts. Wondering where the parents were, or why this little one was alone walking onto such a busy road in the first place, I lost another thirty minutes searching. I finally threw in the towel. I headed back home with the little quacker to take my morning meetings in my home office.
So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me, that I had a baby goose at one of my meetings at Ford Motor Company. It doesn't seem that ludicrous to me.
I created a nest with a blanket, set up some water, and what I imagined a baby duck might eat if it were hungry. Baby fluff-ball almost immediately fell asleep, and I took my early meetings. Not wanting to miss the important stuff, the little quacker woke up just in time for my executive call. He started making a conspicuous racket for something so minuscule. I picked up baby, trying to calm him down. The non-stop chirping prompted a host of questions on the call. I explained quickly, there was laughter, followed by some friendly teasing. This entire adventure made me smile. A motherly connection began rising in my heart to this tiny being. Maybe baby fluff felt the connection as well, because for all the duckling nuzzles, I received that day, he only bit my nose twice. I took that as a high compliment! Between meetings I researched online and quickly learned my duck was a goose. I called the closest wildlife rescue as soon as they opened and was enthusiastically encouraged to drive my baby goose back to the pond to look for the parents.
At lunch I resumed my search around the pond, eyeballing every water fowl in and around the pond. My heart leaped when I spotted a set of parents with two other babies of the exact size and coloring. This must be mom and dad. As soon as baby fluff heard the honking of goose parents it began chirping madly. It was clear my little honker recognized these two. Twice I tried releasing it to the parents, both times with the mother goose chasing me away from her two babies, and my baby goose running in the wrong direction. Once again, I found myself hoping that no one was watching me. A woman, running around in the rain by a retention pond, holding a baby goose, chasing big geese. I found some comfort in the fact that I was wearing my rain boots instead of Michael Kors heels this time.
I tried a third time and success! Baby ran to mama, and mama stopped and started to check out baby. She curiously began nudging him with her bill, softly honking in goose, “there-there little one, everything is okay now.” The rescuer had advised I would need to be 100% certain the geese accepted the baby before I could leave, as there was a chance the parents would reject him. I stood in the rain for another 30 minutes, observing the parents with their third gosling to be certain it was welcomed into the family. I watched them float across the pond. I watched the mom picking grass and the babies eating it. Finally, when mom sat down on my baby goose, along with the other two, I instinctively knew it was a done deal. I departed in gratitude and awe at the beauty, intelligence and divinity of creation. I felt grateful for the opportunity to be on the highway at the perfect moment to save this little creature; I felt grateful to be a part of this moment. I might have even cried a tear or two, realizing there would be no more baby goose nuzzles – probably ever.
I departed in gratitude and awe at the beauty, intelligence and divinity of creation, and for the opportunity to be a part of this moment.