Around the corner from my house, on the old Camino Real, there’s a feed store. They have an enclosure full of ducks and geese and other fowl. They breed these, and sell the young. Presumably they also sell adults if someone wants one. (Every spring, they put out a large sign that says “Colored Chicks for Sale.” Oh, man. I almost drove off the road the first time I saw that one.)
Anyway. So they have all these ducks and geese, thirty or forty or fifty of them, in this open enclosure. Their wings are clipped, of course, so they can’t leave. They seem fairly content. Plenty of room to move about. All the food they can eat. Other ducks and geese to talk to. In the spring, they put out wading pools for them to waddle around in.
So yesterday I was driving to work, past these birds. And as I drove past – whoosh! A dozen of them flew off.
Those weren’t captive birds at all, but some wild Canadian Geese, who had landed there and taken part in the captive life for a while. Ate their food. Admired the hutches. “Oh, I love what you’ve done with the place.” And then, off to see the world. The world! With all the dangers and struggles these kept birds never face. Off to raise babies that get eaten by snakes – and don’t get dyed pastel colors for Easter and sold as novelties. Off to hunt and fly and live.
I was some surprised, and I imagined that the prisoners were, too. (Cheaters! Come back here!) I wonder if any of them had an instinct to leap into the air and follow.
A minute ago I thought they were content, and now I see captive prisoners. Damn perception and its wily ways.