Mr White Goose had been at the pond for a long as I can remember, and during lockdown he and his first wife, Mrs White Goose, became part of our lives. We regularly visited them on lockdown walks, and they got used to us. We got to know the Fishing Man, who was irritating because he wasn't supposed to fish there ('No Fishing', said the huge notice on the wall at the back of the pond). The rich people's servants from the house that backed on to the pond used to sit on a bench and chat to the majestic feathery couple on warm summer evenings.
Then one day, disaster struck: Mrs White Goose was gone, and all that was left was a sad little pile of snowy feathers. The fox had been, and carried her off to a terrible destiny. Mr White Goose was distraught. He shouted and hissed, calling out for days. The Irritating Fisherman told us that she had been exhausted by laying eggs (which were also gobbled up by the hungry fox), and hadn't been able to escape.
About six months later, a new Mrs White Goose appeared. She had angel wing, which means that a wing fails to develop properly and sticks out sideways. This is what waterfowl suffer from when we humans feed them white bread: it's not a good diet for ducks and geese, let alone humans.
Mr White Goose gently courted Mrs White Goose 2. They sailed quietly through the water for a few days, socially distanced. They weren't sure. The nibbled grass together, and gradually became companions. Together, they bullied the ducks. Together, they shrieked at the horrid heron that hunched on the duck house staring them out. Together, they honked at us aggressively because they Don't Know How To Be Nice.
We got used to Mrs White Goose 2 and her oddly architectured wing.
Well, on Boxing Day me and the Offsprogs went for a walk. Over towards the pond, a large white pile lay lifeless on the side. 'Probably just plastic bags', swerved Offsprog Two. Alas, the next day I went up on my own. The carcass of Mrs White Goose 2 had been removed, and there was a pale drift of small feathers scattered on the ground.
The fox had been back, and with her poor wing she had been helpless. Mr White Goose called and called for her: it was heartbreaking.
And then one day, he too had gone. We think think that he has gone to a sanctuary. I hope he has, anyway. Now, there are some elegant Canada geese, who are safe to swish about on the water without being ordered to go away.
It's just not the same up there any more.