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Spring has finally sprung in Hamilton, NY, and the signs of its arrival are everywhere on Colgate’s campus. The sun is shining, allergies are acting up, and the little army of snowmen that once stood guard outside of Frank have melted into slush. As students swing between trees in colorful hammocks, my thoughts are as always of the Taylor Lake geese. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am an enormous fan of the Taylor Lake geese, and that extra je ne sais honk they add to this campus. I’ve thought long and hard about it and decided that one of the best ways that we can honor the geese is by throwing goose picnics. You can think of them like normal picnics on the shores of Taylor Lake, but the geese invite themselves. In the following five steps, I will show you how to throw the most amazing goose picnic that neither you, the geese, nor any confused passersby are likely to forget anytime soon.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

First things first: you have to find the perfect location by Taylor Lake to entertain your feathery friends. I recommend something that is not too swampy but not too ant-infested either. On rainy days, the worms will be out in full force, so for the love of Brian Casey, watch where you sit! Speaking of watching where you set down, try to avoid the little presents that the geese leave around for you. The best way I have found to protect your jeans from becoming a canvas for goose droppings is to bring a thick blanket to set down beneath you. When you peel the blanket off the ground at the end of the picnic, it will inevitably be covered in a patchwork of Jackson Pollock-Esque goose splatter, but that’s just the price you pay for dining with waterfowl as cultivated and artistically inclined as the Taylor Lake geese.

SNACKS & ATTACKS

When planning a successful goose picnic, it is essential to stock up on foods the geese will actually appreciate. I recommend loading up on snacks from Frank or Coop, or even mobile ordering a feast from Chobani and setting up your own little picnic on the grass. Before you know it, the geese, squirrels, ants, and even the Taylor Lake beaver will be not so subtly trying to get in on your goodies. The more the merrier, though. Share the wealth and embrace your inner Disney princess!

Pro tip: the geese of Taylor Lake really like Ritz crackers, whole wheat Cheerios, and Chobani croutons, and will rush at you with wings outstretched in order to score them. So, unless you want to be body-slammed by a goose, I suggest being as subtle as possible with your crunchy snacks. If you’re still uncertain about the idea of a goose picnic and want to keep a healthy distance between yourself and the geese, I recommend skipping the crackers altogether and opting for something like a fruit cup or salad. In my personal experience, the Colgate geese despise salads and will turn their beaks up in disgust nine times out of ten. On that tenth occasion, however, they may lash out at you just to knock the greens from your hands to show you who’s boss and to make sure that you haven’t been hiding any crunchy nibbles from them beneath the lettuce leaves. Geese are impetuous, suspicious, and passionate by nature, and these qualities increase tenfold when croutons are involved.

RESIST THE FLUFF

Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT pet the geese! No matter how fluffy and soft their new plumage may look, no matter how round and squishable their bellies are, DO NOT PET THE GEESE. It will only end in heartbreak and catastrophe for all those involved. For all my Linkstaff friends out there, the goose’s love language is never physical touch, quality time, or acts of service. Rather, the goose’s love language is always gifts, preferably crunchy, salty, crackery gifts like Ritz crackers or whole wheat Cheerios. If you simply cannot resist their fluffy allure and do attempt to pet the geese, I bid you Godspeed. 

FRAT BOPS AND GOOSE HONKS

For any good goose picnic, ambiance is key. Fraternity row music is an option, or bring your own, or let the cries of the geese serenade you. Spend long enough with the geese and you will begin to be able to distinguish between each of their honks and what they express. For example, a simple “Honk” means “Nice picnic you’ve got there. You don’t mind if I sneak a few Ritz off this plate here, do you?” A more insistent honk accompanied by rustling feathers and head-bobbing may mean, “Yo, dingus, get out of my way or I’ll bite you.” And a chorus of honking intermingled with hissing and wing flapping has only one meaning: RUN. No Chobani salad is worth facing the wrath of a righteous goose. That salad, your blanket, and all your “borrowed” Frank silverware are as good as theirs now.

PROTECT THE GEESE AT ALL COSTS

When done, pick up all your trash. I have seen geese picking at anything from a banana peel to beer cans to one another. They may be majestic, but inside their cute little heads, there’s not a whole lot going on. In order to keep our feathery friends safe for future picnics, it’s essential that we leave the picnic area exactly as we found it or even leave it better by picking up any extra bits of trash we see.

Many years ago, two beautiful swans named Adam and Eve graced our Taylor Lake until NY state regulations around swan ownership changed and Adam and Eve’s owner decided to stop leasing them to the University and shipped them off to Ohio. Yes, you read that right, and no, I will never stop bringing up Adam and Eve Swan in conversation. My point is that Colgate has lost its beloved waterfowl once before which makes it all the more important for us to protect the feathery friends that we have now. We are so lucky to have geese on this campus, and I personally know that they bring me more joy and entertainment than any other creature on this campus (sorry, Emrys, you’re a close second). Whenever I’m down, I just go to the lake and wait for a first-year to be humbled by a goose. It never fails to brighten my day, and I want future generations of Colgate students to experience those same joys.

Confession time: I am writing this article now out of guilt. Once upon a time, I wrote an article defaming the geese of Taylor Lake. I called them “rageful,” “vindictive,” and “feathery, little menaces.” However, I have since changed my ways. The winter was long, cold, and gooseless, and I came to miss my feathery campus mates. To me, my goose friends Herbert, Gweg, Simp, and Bonk are more than just accessories for Taylor Lake. Rather, they are signs of the warming weather and a vital part of my Colgate experience. Now that they are back, I encourage everyone to give them a warm welcome and show them some appreciation whether that be through offering up Ritz crackers, bidding them good morning on your way to and from classes, or picking up trash along the Willow Path. The geese ARE something of a menace, but they’re our little menaces. New York City has its pigeons while we essentially have our own XXXL version for Central New York, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you see me by the lake with a Chobani picnic to one side and a battalion of geese to the other, don’t be shy. You’re all invited. 

Bri Liddell

Colgate '25

Hi! My name is Bri, and I'm a decidedly undecided first-year student at Colgate University. I'm a New England native with a passion for hiking, journalism, and fresh notebooks (:
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