Walking down Colgate’s famed Willow Path for the first time, I was struck by its elegance, simplicity and quiet beauty. That is until myself and the little party of first-years I was walking with came upon the geese. They were off in the marshy expanse of grass that borders Taylor Lake, keeping their distance from us for the moment, but evidence of their residency in the area was all around us, especially beneath our feet. A veritable Jackson Pollock of goose droppings splattered the pavement beneath our sneakers, and I found myself dancing around piles in order to avoid getting a little too familiar with their art.
As we journeyed on, Cooper Lowell, a fellow first-year, recounted a harrowing tale to us in which a goose on a golf course had charged at him without warning, with powerful wings raised into points, hissing and spitting as it went. According to Lowell, the goose advanced upon him so quickly and with such ferocity that he was soon able to see into the emptiness of its black eyes and inside its barbed beak to its equally barbed tongue. Abandoning his golf clubs and the tournament altogether, Lowell turned on his heels and ran from the attacking goose, narrowly escaping its seemingly unfounded fury. After not only hearing about such a close call but also learning for the first time about the hundreds of spear-like pseudo-teeth or papillae that geese possess, I began to regard them warily and with a healthy dose of fear.
As a first-year student, there’s still so much I have left to learn about Colgate, but one thing I am now certain of is that I will not be messing with or even making eye contact with the geese of Taylor Lake anytime soon. At the moment, I’m even considering enrolling in a self-defense course just to make sure that I can hold my own in the event of a surprise goose attack. However, until then, I plan to simply avert my gaze for fear of accidentally antagonizing them. Just one rageful goose could absolutely wreck me, and I have no interest in starting a fight that I know I cannot finish.
Despite all this, there is still a certain beauty to the geese that cannot be ignored. The way they huddle together in the little flood pools that dot the lawn, lovingly preen one another and glide effortlessly across the surface of Taylor Lake, sending gentle ripples across its glassy surface, are all reasons to admire them. They are a sign of warmer weather and a reminder of the vast ecosystem of which the Colgate campus is just one tiny part. Like a poisonous flower or a carnivorous shark, the geese should be appreciated from a great distance and not trifled with. If you still dare to walk down Willow Path after hearing all of this or, heaven forbid, step on the geese’s grass, I commend your bravery and wish you the best of luck. I, however, will be giving them their space. Besides, I wear white sneakers and would prefer not to misstep on Willow Path and smear their goosefiti!