When my husband was a boy he somehow had access to a rifle. He took this weapon and shot a defenceless little mourning dove. I think he even surprised himself by this act. When he told his mother about it she was not very happy. She asked him where it was and told him to bring it home. He looked for it in the bush in North Kildonan, found it and brought it home.
“Now,” she said, “I will cook it and you will eat it.”
That proved very difficult for him but he obeyed. I don’t think he shot a bird again after that.
Fast forward about 50 years, when we were in Paraguay as teachers. An invitation came for supper at our friend’s place for Tauben noodle soup.
“Tauben” is the German name for mourning doves. Apparently, every year the farmers’ fields are overrun with them, to the point that they ruin the farmers’ crops completely.
So, there’s a massive effort to get rid of them. Noodle soup is on the menu quite often at this time of year. I found it easier to eat the soup if I called it Tauben noodle soup rather than mourning dove noodle soup. (It’s also called “guiso,” but that’s another story.)
The Canada Goose here is in a similar position the mourning dove is in South America. But geese are not so tiny; in fact they’re quite plump and awkward looking, especially when they waddle across the road. And what a mess they leave behind.
My husband has suggested, in a hopelessly maudlin mood, that the authorities make it law that everyone eat goose for Christmas dinner this year. Not that it will happen, but it could make a difference in the winged population next year. Who knows?
We used to have many, many pigeons here in North Kildonan apartment territory. No one knows, or else they are not telling, what happened to them but it does seem slightly mysterious.
The winged population has given rise to so much good poetry and songs about the life of our birds here in Canada. My favorite is Something Told the Wild Geese, by Rachel Lyman Field:
Something told the wild geese,
It was time to go;
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “Snow!”
Leaves were green and stirring,
But beneath warm feathers,
Something whispered, “Frost!”
All the sagging orchards
Stemmed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.
Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly —
Summer sun was in their wings,
Winter in their cry.
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