Monday, 07 July 2014 03:14

Sometimes a Goose is Just a Goose!

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We have a lovely small pond in Los Alamos called Ashley Pond that is located next to the historic log building that once belonged to the Los Alamos Boys Ranch School. During WWII, the government took over the school and the rest of the town and evacuated everyone in the area in order to create a “secret city” in order to build the first atomic weapons. Los Alamos is quite different from most towns because there is no lake, river, or waterway near the city. We are very isolated and remote but also mostly free from insects that breed in or near water and we share little traffic with water sport enthusiasts. Therefore the anomaly of a spring-fed pond about 150 ft. in diameter is really the only large water feature that we have. It was named after an early resident of the Boys School whose name was actually Ashley Pond. The name play was a bit of humorous indulgence in wry humor for the local natural feature—for anyone who knows the story of the early boy’s ranch. It reality it should probably be called Ashley Pond’s Pond—but it seems a bit much.

Although we all have always enjoyed the pond, it has recently been renovated with a concert stand to the eastern side. The pond has been enhanced with careful landscaping and made into an attractive round pool with new cement sidewalks, and continues to be surrounded by various types of mature trees. The pond was once home to many large goldfish and ducks. I’ve even seen a small crawdad poke it’s head up from the edge.  There is usually a parade of three to six geese completing a short patrol of the pond while quacking about this and that along the way. The small pond is a peaceful haven for families, a lunch hour get-away, and daydreamers. All of the birds remain, year after year, but sometimes when the weather becomes too frigid or snow packed, they are captured by the county and are temporarily wintered in more hospitable locations—off the hill. When spring arrives, they are brought back to the pond and released. Except for once (many years ago) when there was a misunderstanding and the geese wound up being the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals of the caretakers. However, the error was forgiven and more geese were purchased.

I’m not sure of the date, maybe in the early 1980’s, someone noticed that a few more geese where suddenly occupying the pond and they were a completely different breed that the other geese. People began to ask questions and several letters to the newspaper brought the subject to public attention.

We are a city the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita in the country and just because scientists go home at night does not mean they stop thinking. Naturally, there was an abundance of scientific explanation that poured forth for the new geese. All sorts of theories emerged—one more interesting than the other. The migration patterns were changing, natural instincts to trails had been interrupted, global warming, air currents were suddenly different, etc. Maps and migration path charts accompanied articles in the newspaper. Theorists began to argue with each other. Arrogant egos challenged the intellectual concepts that flew through the air about the new birds in town.

(I don’t know this personally, but I have heard the second half of this story from someone else—so I am only repeating what I heard.)

While all this scholarly attention was paid to the extra geese situation, one woman laughed loudly inside her house. She sat reading the newspaper explanations and laughed harder each day about the latest scientific interpretation for the extra geese phenomenon. The reason that she was laughing was simple. She had been given some baby goslings that were cute when they were young but grew up to be somewhat of a nuisance around her house. (A cautionary tale for those who purchase animals for holidays.) She didn’t want to butcher them for food, having become somewhat fond of them, so she finally developed a plan. In the dark of night, she had decided to give them a little ride and treat them to a permanent holiday of lush grass and a nice swimming hole. I’m sure that they didn’t even look back at her—as they happily waddled toward the water to claim their little piece of heaven at Ashley Pond.

Although it was nice that many of our learned people generously offered their opinions on the matter, it just goes to show you that sometimes anyone can make much more of something—than is necessary.

I guess Occam's Razor would apply in this case:

"The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct."

Occam's Razor is a logical principle first described in the 14th century by William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar and philosopher. It is often used to evaluate the usefulness of a theory. Its main tenet is that "Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity." It can be summed up with the phrase "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."

—Raven DeVille

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Raven Q. DeVille

Raven was born in the extreme SE corner of New Mexico, lived in the 4-corners region for 11 years, and has spent the last 50 years in Española, Santa Fe, and especially in the city of Los Alamos. She writes of her own various first-hand experiences, second-hand tales of friends, and various theories regarding ghost stories, legends and general oddness of Enchanted New Mexico.

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  • Comment Link Jim Baca Wednesday, 09 July 2014 23:36 posted by Jim Baca

    Great to see you again Raven! I love your stories!

  • Comment Link Mike Lord Tuesday, 08 July 2014 20:47 posted by Mike Lord

    Good to see you back, Raven. Love the story.

  • Comment Link Arthur Scott Tuesday, 08 July 2014 13:55 posted by Arthur Scott

    Another good one with a very plauable scientific conclusion. Don't overthink the problem!

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