If I Had As Much Sense As a Goose…

As we approach the final weeks of 2020, I’m reminded of the feeling a few years ago when Tom and I were cycling with his friend, an experienced cyclist, Terry. It was a cold, gloomy morning, and I had not slept well the previous two nights. I was enjoying the outing but struggling to stay with my “pack.” The biggest problem was the wind. As a relatively new cyclist, it was a “first” for me: wind so strong I had to pedal going downhill! With my already low energy reserves… I was more than struggling to keep up.

I told Tom and Terry to go ahead. I was enjoying my ride but knew early on I would not be able to keep up. However, if I’m honest, it did feel good to see Tom ahead, occasionally waiting on the side of the road to make sure I was okay, to notice Terry circle around behind me to check on me and then, as he passed me again, to slow down beside me and ask if I was “all good?” At one point, Tom slowed down ahead of me and pointed to his rear tire which was my signal to “lock in” behind him and draft off his bike which eased my effort (he told me later) by roughly 30%.

It reminded me of Snow Geese. It’s never officially Fall for me until I see the Geese as I did today, over the horizon. Two groups seamlessly heading south for the winter, effortlessly aligning themselves into one cohesive group. If you watch them long enough you’ll likely see the lead bird tire, slow down, drop to the back of the group as a new bird slides in to take his place as the leader, soon to be replaced by yet another one when he grows weary. I thought how much this family of geese…and their strategies to ensure the survival and ultimate success of their entire flock, was akin to my friends, colleagues, and loved ones who circle back around me, taking the lead when I tire, encouraging me forward, never once considering leaving me behind… knowing there will come a day when I will take my turn in the lead.

Later, I Googled this phenomenon with geese and found the following facts. Nature ultimately makes no mistakes and I hope you will enjoy the inherent lessons for all of us embedded in Mother Nature’s classroom. This Thanksgiving weekend, I’m once again grateful for the gift of work that makes a difference in the world within such a rich network of people. I deeply love this connection we all have out here in the ether … on “the cloud.” What an amazing time to be alive! Happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of you!

Fact One: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an “uplift” for the other birds to follow. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Fact Two: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Fact Three: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into the formation and another goose flies to the front position.

Fact Four: (My personal favorite!) The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Fact Five: When a goose is sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. They then launch out to catch up with the flock or rejoin another formation.

“The nice thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side.”

~ Margaret Carty