The breeze off the foothills carries the voice of John Denver. He sings of the little pond whose smooth surface mirrors majestic mountains and brilliant blue skies. And the undersides of migrating geese. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. These literal snowbirds flock to my cityscape. They float on the pond. They sunbathe on the shore. They take to the streets. They stroll the sidewalks like shoppers sensing a sale.
My neighbors dislike the geese. They call them noisy, nasty and messy. But Tundra loves them—well, parts of them. Tundra is my guide dog. Each morning, Tundra leads me from our front door, down the path and beholds…ahhh…a sidewalk smorgasbord of goose leftovers stretching halfway to the brilliant blue horizon.
This morning, Tundra and I are joined for our walk by my friend, Sadie. I fasten Tundra’s harness, leash and gentle leader and off we go. I serenade Tundra with a Beatles verse: “Hold your head up, you silly girl…” then improvise, “…’cuz goose poop upsets your tummy.”
“Oh,” says Sadie, “I thought you only wanted her not to step in it.”
“With Tundra, it runs deeper,” I reply. “At base, she’s a food-driven Lab.”
Our little parade reaches the reticulated dome at the corner. Tundra hits her mark and I reward her with a treat. I’m certain she’d prefer goose poop. On we walk.
“I’m afraid I may be distracting Tundra,” says Sadie.
“Thanks for your concern,” I tell her, “but compared to goose poop and dog treats, you finish a distant third.”
“Oh,” she chuckles, but I sense her feelings are hurt.
“Don’t feel bad,” I tell Sadie. “If it weren’t for Tundra’s multiple restraining devices, my pocketful of dog treats and your steadying presence, this practice run could have devolved into sheer anarchy.” As it is, Tundra’s loyalty to training is nearly flawless—betrayed only by the occasional lunge toward goose poop.
Morning stroll completed, Sadie and I remove our shoes and we all adjourn to tea for two and treats for three in my sunlit kitchen.
“I’m curious why Tundra prefers goose leftovers to the real birds,” says Sadie.
“I’m happy she settles for small potatoes on the sidewalk,” I reply. “If she set her sights on the big birds, she’d have dragged me into the pond by now.”
Sidewalk Café Playlist
“Martha My Dear” by The Beatles, from the “The Beatles” (White Album). This song supposedly is about Paul’s dog…or is that “Dear Prudence?).
“Autumn Almanac” by The Kinks. Ask your Smart Speaker to find it. “This is my street/And I’m never going to leave it.”
“End of the Season” by The Kinks, from “Something Else by The Kinks.” A song about winter.
“Colorado” by The Flying Burrito Brothers. The quintessential love song where the guy wants to return to the “woo-mun” he left far behind…in Colorado.
“Get Off of My Cloud” by The Rolling Stones is for my neighbors who find their paradise sullied by geese.