After a long starless night, day finally made itself known. Weak winter light crawled over Maine’s eastern shores, then over its western foothills. By the time it reached the town of Wilton, international guests had already arrived.

Ten Canada geese landed on Wilson Lake in Wilton on their way south last Dec. 8. Photo courtesy of Ann Pike

The usual schedule for overnight layovers is November. But this group arrived in the early morning last Dec. 8. No fans waited outside to greet these distinguished guests. No flags. No band. No cheering or chanting. But the 10 Canada geese who landed on the waters of Wilson Lake near the “condos” didn’t seem to mind at all.

Neither did they give second thoughts to the fluttering snowflakes. A complimentary breakfast was their focus. With black heads and long black necks completely underwater, they grazed on vegetation in the shallows beneath. A few would dabble daintily at the surface while others dove headlong upending their tails, a comical sight to behold. Sometimes all 10 heads would submerge simultaneously, as if trained for synchronized swimming.

Reservations had been made for the night, allowing the Canada geese to spend the day exploring like any tourist. They trolled the edges of two small islands and the main shoreline. Coarse calls cut through the quiet of the morning. And when the sun slid behind the western mountains, lake residents could still hear honking.

This year, on this date, at this moment in time, there were only 10 in the group making their way south to a warmer climate and open water. But in earlier months and in past seasons, there have been groups as large as 50.

Canada geese are majestic, almost royal in how they carry their large bodies, their colors matching the day: black for the darker waters, white for the snow-crusted edges of islands and gray-brown for bare branches reaching out silently in the cold.

As humans we often have a predisposition to keep trolling, searching far and wide for extraordinary moments of happiness. Yet joy can often be found right at home in the most ordinary of things, as ordinary as the Canada goose.

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