Say it’s back in the middle of the last century. You’re a kid who likes jungle stories and wild places. You hang out in a prairie south of Chicago.
It’s got an industrial taint since there are adjacent factories and dumps. But, hell, Illinois is the Prairie State, and you can’t quash its elemental nature.
It’s a place of birds, snakes, and adventure. Even though you’re a roughneck, your interest in wild things gives you names for what you see. They’re not just birds; they’re Red-winged Blackbirds.
Or Bobolinks and Green Herons. Sometimes yellow Meadowlarks capture your attention while your friends are looking under flat rocks for coiled snakes, and finding them.
You’re a kid who reads about wild things. The general view is that nature will lose out to human overgrowth. Birds will get scarcer as you get older.
One day, after a rain, there’s a swamp in your prairie.
In it, floats a lone Canada Goose. A big, unusual bird for that time and place.
Word spread, and soon a man parks a pickup and wades into the water carrying a shotgun.
He shot a wing right off, and the bird swam in circles, making small cries.
Seeing this as a sad kid you figured the birds of nature wouldn’t have a chance in their ongoing competition with humans.
Today, you’re not a kid. You live in a citified suburb outside the big, smoking city of Chicago. You walk the dog, and—irony of ironies—there are healthy Canada Geese all over the place.
At least two mated pairs are on your lawn. They saunter off, unconcerned, as you get near. You’re not worth the effort it would take to fly out of the yard.
The irony is heavy, just like the bodies of these big geese.
Back when you were a kid, you figured they had no future. Now it’s the science-fiction year of 2016, and the place is full of goose droppings.
Geese aren’t just in residential neighborhoods. There’s a big shopping mall nearby, and geese are in pairs on the cement parking lot. They nest under lampposts in the mall’s gardens.
Ironically, geese are here today with a vengeance.
As some character says in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.”
Groups of geese are called “gaggles” according to quaint terminology.
And when flying, they’re called “skeins,”
A gaggle of geese. Or a skein of geese. Both phrases are outdated. You’ve got a better one.
It comes to you as you look out the window. There’s a group on the lawn now, grazing. An “irony of geese.”