A colorful solution to Shawano’s geese problem

During the past several weeks, there has been a great deal of discussion and controversy surrounding the resident geese who have made the Shawano waterways their home. Amid the public outcry, the fellas who gather at the Gresham Hardware Store added a touch of satire.

I have always enjoyed the musings of Tom Mehlberg. I loved his column; he had a way of saying things in a way only Tom could.

In regard to the recent goose issue, Tom posted: “This morning, a few of us Gresham guys were talking at the ‘Gresham think tank’ (Gresham Hardware Store) and how we Gresham guys would solve a goose problem like Shawano has. The first thing needed is for the DNR to give permission to corral the geese or gooses or whatever you want to call them. I must state if you are going to pick on a goose, you must also pick on a gander; you know, treat both sexes equal.”

Mehlberg continued, “Here is the plan: First you must get Shawano people who own paintball guns to volunteer either an a.m. or a p.m. to shoot those (pooping) geese with bright colored paintballs. The shooters must provide their own paintballs and guns; we think there will be more than enough volunteers to get the job done. The total cost to Shawano will be nothing and there will be a lot of happy volunteers.

“Oh, there is one downfall with this solution, many of the geese around Shawano will have a tie-dyed look. If you know of any other world problems that need solving, just let someone at the Gresham Hardware Store know and all will be put right again. Keep it safe out there.”

Tom added, “If the new mayor of Shawano likes this idea and wants to adopt it, he can feel free to send a couple dozen fresh donuts to the hardware store early some morning.”

Of course, Tom’s post prompted several responses. Annie Gast replied, “A great and fun idea.”

Peggy Ray responded, “Is that like many years ago, gathering at Stiers Hardware or Schabows?”

Margie Kuhn said, “You Gresham Guys are so creative with problem solving! I should know, I married one! Tom for Gresham mayor.”

Greg Landon said, “Pure genius! Instead of City on the Wolf, they could market themselves as City of the Colored Geese. You would have people coming from all over the world to view. Imagine the economic impact! When is the next meeting at the hardware store?”

Tom quipped, “How about some goose facts? One goose is called a goose, more than one goose are called geese. A female goose is called a goose and a male goose is called a gander. So, in the future, when talking about a male goose, refer to him as a gander goose. When referring to a female, you would be talking about a goose goose.”

Tom is such a hoot – or maybe a honk!

Someone sent me an amusing goose story: Climbing out of your car in a crowded supermarket parking lot, you hear what sounds like a raucous cocktail party. Glancing skyward, you see the sound’s origin: hundreds of migrating, low-flying Canada geese coming right at you.

It’s at this moment that your ability to remember pointless facts suddenly comes in handy. You recall Canada geese defecate up to 92 times a day. Being the upstanding citizen that you are, you look to your right and warn the stranger getting out of his car, “Take cover! There is a gaggle of geese coming in fast.”

Despite your good Samaritan act, the stranger gives you a supercilious gander. He opens his mouth to speak, but the geese are almost upon you. Diving back into your car, you vaguely hear his condescending reply. “No, no, no, get your terminology correct. Geese are only called a gaggle when they are on land. That, or a flock, but when they are in the air you call them a skein, wedge, or team …”

Three poo bombs to the face prevent him from finishing his comment. Apparently migrating geese don’t like grammar police!

A popular book published in 1486 contained these collective nouns. They are descriptive, clever-sounding and slightly based in science.

You can call a group of asses (the animal kind) a “coffle,” but only if they’re in a roped line. It is a rangale of deer, a stand of flamingoes, a whoop of gorillas, and a gam of whales. Owls are a parliament and parrots are a pandemonium.

There is also a run of poultry, a flight of pigeons, a fleet of mud hens, a colony of gulls, a descent of woodpeckers, a herd of wrens, a murder of crows and a flock of turkeys.

For now, the gaggle of geese has a reprieve. I just noticed “a charm” of finches at our birdfeeder. Life is good!

Question: Can you name the largest employer in Shawano County in 1973?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The largest employer in 1973 was Eagle Knit-Division of Zwicker Knitting.

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.