I’m swimming in a lake with my daughters, and another family nearby starts feeding the geese. Within seconds, a gaggle surrounds us. They come from every direction, leaving the shore and their organized formations across the lake. Our heads bob along in the water right against their soft, wild feathers. I’m so close that I can look into those deep black eyes and touch the fuzzy heads of the goslings.
It doesn’t seem right how close we are. It seems other-worldly. We aren’t separate from the wild; we’re swimming along with it.
The family with the goose food offers me a handful. If I’m still enough, someone tells me, the geese will eat from my hand.
And so I am. And so they do.
I’m told we can swim under the geese and even touch their webbed feet. Because the geese are used to floating logs and debris, they don’t mind when you hold their feet. My daughter tightens her goggles and dives under the surface to swim beneath the geese.
My five year old has pink goggles that sit on the pier. My husband tosses them out to me, and I dive deep under the gaggle, turn myself over, and look up towards the heavens. It’s all feathers, little webbed feet, and the jeweled water swirling above my head as the sun shines down.
I stored that experience away, like I hope my daughters did, in that place in my imagination reserved for the magical, the heavenly, and the purely happy. Maybe one day, when life bears down on my children with that weight of sadness that comes to us all eventually, in its own way, they would recall this morning swim beneath the geese. They could live again in that moment when something rare and beautiful happened. And they’d catch it–all feathered, webbed, and jeweled–in their hands.
It could be their flair for that day.