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I’m about ready to declare Goose a member of my spirit animal pantheon. Over the years, I’ve adopted Otter and Raven and Porcupine, symbolizing play and magic and trust. Now, I think Goose should join the party to represent community — my belief in the power and support of community, the necessity of community.

Not that they’re only the animals that could exemplify this — lots of critters are social, gathering in herds and packs and pods and colonies. But there are several things about geese, especially, that I like.

  • Geese fly together in a “V” because this formation reduces the exertion required of every individual bird and increases the entire flock’s range by over 70%. Each goose’s flapping wings creates a bit of uplift for the birds that follow.
  • Members of the flock take turns in the lead. They share the effort and all get to enjoy the benefits.
  • They tend to mate for life and stick with their flock for life, looking out for each other. If one gets sick or wounded and needs to drop out, a couple of others will fall out of formation and stay with her until she is able to fly again.
  • They “HONK.” There are lots of reasons for the honking — recognition, coordination, keeping in touch. Zoologists also believe that their honking is a form of encouragement.

This last fact delights me. Ever since learning about it, I’ve heard honking geese in a new way. Like they’re saying to each other, “You can do it! We got this! Nice wingspan, you magnificent creature! Look at you up there up front — you’re amazing!”

They’re honking, “I love you!”

Valentine’s Day isn’t my favorite. Most of the ways it’s celebrated nowadays seem kind of tacky. I mean, I enjoy chocolate and flowers as much as anybody, and I don’t mean to be a curmudgeon around any excuse for romance. But Valentine’s Day, more than any other contemporary holiday, it seems to me, has been entirely disconnected from its historical roots and replaced with pure commerce. I’m not advocating for today’s retailers to bring back Catholic martyrdom or violent Roman fertility festivals — but, still, they’re missing a lot of the oomph that the holiday once had.

One enduring tradition that I do appreciate is love notes. Valentine’s Day love notes. I don’t know if they still do this, but when I was a child, kids gave Valentines to their entire class, to all their classmates. Everyone got one from everybody else.

This brings some of the spirit of Goose, honking affection and encouragement for the entire flock. Honking “I love you.” If not in so many words, then maybe even better with all the unapologetically bad puns these cards often employ. Two cheeses: “Will you brie my Valentine?” Some cats lifting a large heart shape: “I have strong felines for you.” Hot dogs: “Let’s be frank, I want you for my Valentine.” So ridiculous and awesome. That’s more Goose for us — silly goose.

Let’s do some honking for each other this Sunday. Honk if you love community. Honk if you love yourself and your life and the people in it. Honk if you love the possibility of more love in the world. I can’t wait to be with you. XO, Drew

©2024 Drew Groves

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