Since moving to LA last fall and becoming one with the highways, on their shoulders I have seen a dead skunk, at least a couple dead possums and something I think was, at one time, a dog. But nothing compared to seeing on a recent spring morning a Canada goose in the center of five-lane Interstate 5, northbound between Burbank and Valencia. Not (yet) road kill, she waddled as if an injured wing, stuck straight up and flapping feebly, kept her grounded. The thick, fast-moving traffic sped around her. I hope she made it across, though let’s face it, it’s unlikely.
That goose was the definitive reminder that seasons do exist here in LA. The outside temperature that day was perfect relative to the shape and tilt of the earth and the movement of the sun and the internal body temperature of the goose, which could only have been headed north for the summer. The goose, the only one I’ve seen in Los Angeles, reminded me of walking to high school on warm spring mornings in Denver, when we would pass flocks of Canada geese. They’d arrive in a “V” and settle on the grass between the parking lot and side door of the school. They left little green, fertilizing shits all over the fields and grass, and they would honk, run, and snap at anyone who walked towards those doors. I’m sure they still return every year to those spacious fields. But this goose out on the highway was a Southern California metropolitan goose. Her story is a mystery to me.
On my drive back south at the end of the day it rained a little, and the car immediately behind me got rear-ended. The accident in terms of time of day and direction of travel is opposite to the goose story. But I saw springtime in Los Angeles in that goose going north on that balmy morning, coupled with the car accident going south on a rain-slicked night. The truth is, the geese I’d seen in the mornings on the green fields by my high school are completely estranged from these two incidents on the drab, featureless highway. This solitary interstate goose was more closely related to the Angeleno highway commuter than it was to any flock.
Chris Black lives with his wife in Los Angeles. He is a former associate editor at Black Clock and wrote feature articles on rubber duck races, birds of prey, and other mountain topics for The Vail Trail weekly.