The geese are gone. And I miss them already; the garden is too quiet without their scolding the Hadada ibis and chiding the dogs, and the lawn too large without interruption afforded by their comical pit-pat waddle. I packed them into a laundry basket yesterday morning and drove them to my friend. She lives on a hill which is inhabited by a crowd rumoured to be too posh to mingle with other common or garden Arusha residents. But I suspect geography has a bigger part to play in their isolation than any conscious social act on their part.
But her own two geese rather endorse what the rumour mongers suggest. They regard my three, which look a bit grubby and disheveled when I unload them from laundry baskets, with undiluted disdain. Then they toss their snow white heads and stalk off.
A while later, and as I’m leaving my friend’s after a cup of coffee, I notice my geese wandering off in vague direction of home, several miles away, looking lost and a bit deflated. I stop the car, leap out and herd them back in general direction of friend’s stables where her own geese live. And then I call her to explain. She is as concerned as I that my geese are made to feel at home. She has since assured me they are holed up in clean, dry chicken house with buckets of feed. ‘If I give them enough to eat’, she says, ‘they’ll begin to feel at home and stay put’. So the gossips are wrong: it is geography and not snobbery that separates this community from everybody else – my friend’s geese just don’t see enough of others to know how to behave, for their owner certainly does, as demonstrated by her graceful and warm hospitality.