Photo subject is hard to capture

Published 5:45 am Saturday, February 3, 2018

Now that winter is rearing its icy head, I am not one of those people who wax nostalgic about fireplaces and heating their homes with open fireplaces or wood/coal burning stoves or furnaces.

All my life, I’ve heard the sounds that geese make called, honking.” But the spelled-out sounds that the dozens or hundreds of Canadian geese make when they fly over our place, daily, definitely starts with a w and I’m pretty sure there’s a q in there, near the end, as well.

“Whaancq! Whaancq! Whaancq! Whaancq!” Over and over and over. There’s no u after the q in goose speak, which is probably why old Daniel Webster left it out of his wonderful, wordy book. It defies the general rules of spelling in much the same way this column often defies and ignores the rules of grammar. In any event, the sound is not anywhere close to what I would call a honk.

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Even cars don’t honk anymore. They either beep, tweet or sound like they are passing gas after eating too many soup beans. Occasionally an old pick up will still emit a manly honk but they’re getting scarcer every day. And, as usual, I’m getting off the point.

Normally, when I go out to the porch, bundled up, for morning coffee and a few puffs of Captain Black around 8 a.m., I’ll hear the geese coming several seconds before they show up on the southern horizon heading toward one of the dozens of big farm ponds that dot the landscape of central Kentucky. I’m assuming that most ponds are like the one that covers an acre or so behind my house, the outer edges of which host myriad, plentiful, aquatic vegetation on which the wild geese feed. Loretta has numerous photos of them walking around the pasture that she has shot through our kitchen window.

It’s not unusual to see half a dozen flocks fly over, anywhere from 6 to as many as 25 or more per flock, in the course of 15 minutes. About an hour before dark I hear them coming from the north, headed back to whatever larger impoundment that makes them feel safe at night, but where the food supply is apparently slim pickings. I suspect they are mostly going to or coming from Lake Linville at Renfro Valley or Maywoods here in Garrard County but I would not place much of a wager on that assumption.

My current ambition is to take a photograph of a flock or flocks of the flying geese set against some sunrise or sunset clouds or even a deep blue sky. I can see said photos in my mind’s eye—-a long V with 20 or so geese, perfectly lighted, or maybe just half a dozen flying side by side or in tandem with puffy little clouds in the background. The clouds are sometimes colored up and sometimes snowy white. You’d be proud to have this image in a large frame adorning a wall in your living room or den if I am ever able to take it.

Late last Sunday afternoon/early evening our semi-adopted son, John Edwards, and his three daughters, Shyann, Alyssia and Johnna were visiting from Mount Vernon. John and I were on the porch while I waited for the geese to arrive while the girls were inside playing with our horse dog (a yellow lab who looks like a dog/big as a horse).

The sky had all the makings of an incredible sunset and it was getting better all the time. My camera was on the porch swing, within easy reach so I could grab it as soon as we heard the geese coming.

Suddenly John yelled, “Look at that!”

More than a dozen geese, as silently as a full moon at midnight, were already passing through the very spot I intended to photograph without bothering to announce their arrival. They were out of sight by the time I’d grabbed my camera.

Five minutes later the same scenario happened again. Without making a sound, the geese were more than halfway to the tree-line. This time I already had the camera in my hands and I did manage to get a shot of goose tails going out of sight but it’s not something you’ll ever see in a picture frame. I may post it on Facebook.

We sat out there for another half hour or so until the light got so low that I would not have been able to get enough shutter speed to take a photo in sharp focus and I decided to take the camera back inside.

We walked back out onto the twilighted porch just in time to hear, “Whaancq! Whaancq! Whaancq! Whaancq!”

And, sure enough, here came the perfect V I’d been waiting for. In the spirit of very sour grapes I told John that I couldn’t have taken the photograph anyway.

But rest assured. If the weather warms back up I will keep trying and I may yet pull it off if the darn things will yell and let me know they’re coming while the light is still good.

Reach longtime Enterprise columnist Ike Adams at or on Facebook or 249 Charlie Brown Road, Paint Lick, KY 40461.