They're monogamous. They protect their community. They all help out with the kids. They take turns leading, and when one gets tired, another moves up to take that responsibility. And they are always in touch.
Who are these folks, you ask?
Canada Geese. Some of my role models have feathers.
I can't find a photo of six geese a-laying, and I am not surprised. The birds do not tolerate fools gladly (or any other way). They are brave enough to scare you away, and strong enough to hurt you, especially with their powerful wings. So when a goose hisses at me, I take it seriously.
But I love these great migratory birds, and have stopped in my tracks countless times, when I hear a flock honking overhead, to look up and watch them, and feel my heart try to lift out of my body to follow them. If they are flying low enough, I can hear the rush of air against their wings, and it is deeply stirring. I have dreamed that I was one of the birds in that V, taking my turn at flying in front, and then dropping back to let another lead when I tired.
Here is a poem by Mary Oliver…
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.