The Goose Who Flies Without Wings
Animal Stories from

By Indra Lahiri, Indraloka Animal Sanctuary as posted on This Dish is Veg
January 2013

“You’ve done it, daughter,” the lead goose said quietly. “You fly without wings.”

goose wings flying without 

Depending on your point of view, you might say that Lucy was born blessed, or that she had good karma, or incredibly good luck. Lucy — although she wasn’t called that then– was born a wild Canada Goose. She lived with a huge flock of geese, flying wherever they pleased, calling to one another and landing wherever they saw the tastiest grasses, grains, and berries. They swam happily, choosing lakes for their beauty and proximity to delectable treats. When the air became a bit chilly, they simply migrated to a warmer range, and if they felt too hot, they took a jaunt to the north until they found more temperate weather.

Oh! How Lucy loved to fly! Of course she wasn’t called Lucy, yet. In those days, the other geese had a special name for her in goose language, so we humans can’t even pronounce it. She was much beloved by her whole flock, and her name reflected their tender affection for her. It meant “delicate, sweet smelling, holy flower,” kind of like a lotus, only not at all, since geese don’t use our name for lotus. Besides, lotuses don’t even grow naturally anywhere in Canada Goose territory. At any rate, it was a beautiful tribute of a name for a favored princess among geese.

Lucy loved to eat berries, she especially loved to swim, and her love for her flock made her heart expand every time she heard them call. But far above everything about Lucy’s charmed life, she loved to spread her wings, take off with a running start, and fly! She would soar and dive and chase the other young geese in her flock. They would make up all kinds of games that required fast, complex maneuvers in the air. Lucy took pride in her strength and skill. Everyone agreed she was destined to be a head bird someday, leading the V-shaped flock as they migrated to the choicest locations.

goose wings flying without 

One day, Lucy was playing with another young goosey. They decided to dive for a specific leaf they saw floating down the river far below. Lucy orchestrated a beautiful landing, and was feeling great.

But something went wrong.

The current was stronger than she had expected. As she landed, pulling her wings back and arching her neck to slow down, the river’s icy fingers grabbed at her feet. She struggled, but it was stronger than she. Lucy tumbled headlong, the current rushing her forward as she struggled for air.

 “What have we got here? What happened to you?” The human hand grasped her body and pulled her up out of the water.

Panicking, Lucy tried to flap her wings to get away. Hit with another wave of pain, she realized fighting was useless.

The humans put her in some sort of enclosure. Her broken wing was carefully taped, and she was set down on a nest of fresh straw.

“There you are! Feel better?” The human woman’s voice was not speaking goose language, but for some reason Lucy understood.

A man’s voice came from behind her. “That wing’ll need some time to heal. I don’t know if she’ll be able to fly south this winter.”

“That’s okay, girl,” the woman said gently, “We’ll just take care of you through winter and by spring you’ll be good as new.”

Lucy knew that it was not natural for a goose to live with humans, but something about the look in their eyes made Lucy believe that these humans had feelings. She could have sworn they had actual souls, just like geese.

In fact, something in the way that they talked to her reminded her of the tenderness with which she was treated by her flock. She understood that she couldn’t go anywhere with her wing broken. Lucy decided to trust these humans, and that’s when she was given her human name, Lucy Goosey. It was silly and sweet, and the way they said it was full of affection.

The next morning at sunrise, Lucy’s flock flew overhead, calling down to her, “Come fly with us.”

“I can’t,” Lucy called back, “My wing won’t work.”

goose wings flying without 

They came back every day for a month, but Lucy’s wing still wouldn’t work. The humans were nice, but oh, how Lucy missed flying! She’d take a running start and flap like mad, but she just couldn’t take flight.

Finally, the flock called to her, “We have to leave, it’s getting too cold. We’ll be back in spring.”

Lucy wept. The flock was leaving her behind, her wing wouldn’t work. What if she never flew again?

The humans were good to her. They nursed Lucy for months. Every day, Lucy took a running start and flapped her wings with all of her power. And everyday, she stayed grounded.

Spring came, and Lucy still couldn’t fly. The man said, “I don’t think that wing is ever going to heal.”

“What will we do? This is no life for a goose,” fretted the woman.

“You’re right. A goose shouldn’t be alone. She needs other birds. She needs a flock,” the man agreed.

“Let’s call that sanctuary. Maybe they can help.”

And that’s how Lucy Goosey came to live at Indraloka Animal Sanctuary. There, she didn’t live in an enclosure, but was allowed to go wherever she wanted. “You are free,” the humans there told her, “We love you, and we will take care of you, but know that you are always free,” they spoke in soft tones, with a sparkle in their eyes.

She had acres of grasses to enjoy, and was given seeds and berries everyday. She decided to sleep in the barn each night, out of predators’ reach. Soon, she had a new flock, eight motherless ducklings to care for.

goose wings flying without 

And her own goose family, her birth flock, found her there, too, although they just flew over the farm and didn’t land. Lucy’s heart expanded in wordless love for these beautiful beings that made up her birth flock of geese.

“Come fly with us.”

“I can’t fly anymore,” Lucy said sadly. “Please land here and live with me, we have so many berries to enjoy!”

But the flock wanted to stay wild. They didn’t want to live on a farm.

That night, Lucy dreamt she was flying with her flock. Once again, she was free, gliding, playing, and swooping. She felt weightless, and blissful.

One of the lead geese slowed down, allowing Lucy to catch up to him. “You can still fly, Lucy.”

“How?” she honked, but he had already flown far ahead. “How?” Lucy wailed as she woke to the reality of her disabled wing. The next night, Lucy had the same dream. This time though, she was able to ask him,

“How? How will I fly without wings?”

He honked her goose-name tenderly. “That, daughter, is the lesson we all must learn.”

Seasons rolled on. Soon, autumn flowed in on a gentle mist. It was time for her flock to fly south again. Once more they called their love and promised to be back in spring.

Everyday, Lucy Goosey led her flock of ducklings around the farm, taking them for lovely swims, finding delectable treats, and teaching them to groom themselves in the sunshine.

Every night, Lucy dreamt she was flying. Weightless. She felt the wind caress her feathers. She reveled in the moisture of the clouds and the warmth of the sun. She breathed deeply, inhaling the smells of fresh grass, moist earth, and tender plants growing in lakes and streams. Her keen eyes enjoyed the views from on high, blues, greens, browns and yellows in a kaleidoscope of earthly delights. She was a bird! She was free! Her wing didn’t hurt, nothing hurt. In fact, she wasn’t even aware of her body at all! She was just flying.

“You’ve done it, daughter,” the lead goose said quietly. “You fly without wings.”

goose wings flying without

Indra is the founder of Indraloka Animal Sanctuary, an all-species safe haven for animals that would otherwise have been euthanized or slaughtered. Indraloka is founded on two principles: 1) the earth itself and all life are sacred and 2) we are all related. Indraloka supports animal rescue groups by providing a lifetime home for animals that are otherwise unadoptable, and also rescues farm animals from cruelty. Indra has dedicated her life to helping previously traumatized animals heal and rediscover joy, love, and trust. In the process, the animals she set out to help have become her greatest healers and teachers. 

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