In a world filled with bad news stories, let me offer you something different: A story that will remind you of the circle of life—and resilience.
For the past 4 years a goose couple have been making their nest on the rooftop of Weiss Hospital Parking Garage. This is not so unusual. Geese mate for life and have very good memories. If something has worked once they’ll come back to it. I have several friends who do urban gardening on the Weiss rooftop. The administrator for the program has a window that looks out onto the rooftop garden. She and Wally and Linda have gotten to know each other through the years.
Wally is literally a goose whisperer. And, of course, the animals all love Wally because he feeds them. Often I’ll see him returning from Weiss with the most beautiful chicken eggs and Linda offers up produce from her garden starting . . . soon, I hope. The geese remember Wally from previous years as he and Linda have helped the family get back down to the lake with the hatchlings.
This year, with the help of Weiss, things were even more organized.
She laid 9 eggs and 6 hatched. This was over 2 weeks ago and by the beginning of this week Wally was getting calls from the administrator that the geese parents were getting antsy, they’d start off down the ramp and abort the walk to the lake. Wally would rush over and shoo them back up to their nest. The 1.4 mile walk to the lake crosses major intersections. He’d need a team to help with the migration to the lake.
So this year Wally and Linda put out a call and assembled a crew to “walk” the geese to the lake. You see there is very little food up top and at a certain point they need to all leave and get their goose routine going. We weren’t necessarily evicting them, but assisting them to follow the imprint of nature. Fifteen of us arrived on the 6th floor of Weiss at noon to start the Weezie Walk, named after Mama Goose. https://www.facebook.com/abc7chicago/videos/10155569956951162/
The little goslings followed mommy with their short little legs down the spiraling ramp with daddy hissing if one of us got too close. Ahead of us Weiss security led the parade keeping cars from driving up. Everyone seemed to understand. At intersections drivers got out their phones and rolled down their windows—“They’re so cute!” We heard over and over.
Once in the park we had to be on the lookout for dogs. Again pet owners and cyclists paid attention and stopped. Everyone seemed to grasp this was a sacred moment. We were keeping a family together, ensuring that this herd of geese made it to where they needed to be.
Instinctively the mom and dad knew too—where to go. As if there was a homing device in their brains, they made the right turns and after a while Wally didn’t need to cue them—they were running toward open water!
At the edge of Montrose Harbor there is a 7 foot drop. This might be the gosling equivalent to the Victorian Falls. Plus they had never seen water before let alone grass and cement. Up till now their entire world had been the Weiss rooftop. It was a lot for the little ones to take in at once. Now they would have to jump and just swim. This was literally a LEAP OF FAITH.
Mom and Dad went in first. They turned and waited. The 6 goslings lined up at the edge. Minutes ticked by. Then one, two, three—all six jumped and landed in the cold, cold water (they have a natural oil in their feathers that helps protect them). All of us goose trackers cheered. See you next year Weezie!