By SHERI RYAN
Last Friday, I decided to take advantage of some comp time I had accrued at work to drive down to visit with my daughter and granddaughter. My plan was to leave at noon to maximize the time I would get to spend with them; however, my work load simply would not permit it.
I became more and more frustrated with every phone call, email or walk-in that was cutting into my time with "my" baby.
I finally decided that I would take my leave regardless of what was sitting on my desk, and an hour and 15 minutes later than what I had intended, I locked up and was on my way.
As soon as I got into my car I started feeling happy and excited because that little girl is nothing less than my heart, itself. I think about her all the time and ask my daughter to regularly post photos or videos just so I can get a glimpse of her day, and when I really can't stand being away from her any longer, we Skype.
It was all I could do to drive within the speed limit and obey all traffic laws due to the building anticipation within me.
I was enjoying the sunshine and the view when something caught my eye beyond the road on my left.
The usually empty pond was completely filled with white Snow geese as well as some Canada geese. When I say filled, I mean I could barely see any water. I had never seen so many geese in one spot!
My first instinct was to immediately pull over and take a picture, but there were cars behind me and no safe place to park and I was already very late for my date with an angel.
Still, I was dying to snap a picture of all of those geese peacefully floating in the pond.
I drove a little further down the road when I finally made up my mind to turn around. As I approached the area, I really couldn't see any safe place to pull over. Additionally, the pond was set far back off the road and I didn't want to trespass on private property.
I drove on to the next intersection and as luck would have it, what turned out to be the property owner was in his driveway ready to leave. I asked him if I could gain access to his property to take a photograph and he directed me further down the street to a small, gravel access road that led to the pond.
When I reached my destination, I noticed all of the high reeds that surrounded the pond obstructing my view. I could hear the geese but couldn't see them from that vantage point.
I wasn't sure which way would give me the best access to the pond, so I just decided to walk to the right.
The ground was soft and since I was in my work clothes I was a little concerned about getting my shoes dirty, but getting the shot I wanted would be worth it.
As I walked on, I was so eager to take the pictures that I wasn't paying attention to where I was stepping when suddenly, I stepped into cold, swampy muck that completely covered my brand new leather clogs. Mixed in with that swampy muck was of course loads of goose poo.
I can only imagine the look on my face as I held up my pant legs in an attempt to avoid getting the repulsive substance on my clothing.
I trudged my way back and decided to try the second path, now fiercely determined to take that picture.
I passed a patch of high bamboo stalks that was growing near the pond and photographed them since it was not something that I think I ever saw here in Pennsylvania.
As the reed growth started to thin out, I was finally able to see the geese on the pond. The anticipation in me started to build once again. After all of that work to get there (along with ruining a brand new pair of shoes), I was finally going to get that picture.
In hind sight I am thinking that perhaps I should have been a little more stealthy in my endeavor and tiptoed up on them like a Ninja; but I didn't. No sir-ee.
Instead, I stepped into the clearing all proud and triumphant, raised my camera up to take that peaceful, serene shot when all of a sudden there was a single honk of alarm followed by the thunderous roar of at least a thousand geese taking flight simultaneously, each while sounding their own honking alarms!
The noise was deafening and I was terrified and mesmerized at the same time. I started taking rapid-fire shots of the ascent while ducking my head and retreating in fear of some sort of retaliatory aerial assault. My heart was beating rapidly and I abruptly felt like I was in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller, "The Birds."
Still, I kept taking pictures at the startled and confused flock until they eventually made their way across the street and into an adjacent field.
With my hands shaking from the experience, I reviewed the photos on my camera and was very pleased with the results.
I walked back to my car and took off my gross shoes and socks and placed them in a plastic bag.
I sat there for a moment and reflected on all that had transpired.
Had I left on time, the geese may not have been there when I arrived. Had I not taken the time to enjoy my surroundings, I would not have noticed them in the first place.
Had I not turned around to go back to take the photos or persevered through the swampy muck, I would have regretted it for the rest of the day and missed out on the adventure that was to come.
I didn't get the shot that I initially wanted; but instead, I had an incredible, exhilarating and memorable experience that was captured with incredible photos that I later shared with my daughter and will one day share with that precious grandbaby of mine.