Friday, 30 May 2014
Rufus and the Games
By Chlele Gummer
Rufus, a six month old gosling, had hatched four days later than his sisters at Spring Lake, a favorite park for the Canada Geese. In the center of the lake is an island where the flock make their nests. Because he was the last one hatched Rufus grew slower, was smaller than all the others and couldn't do the things that most goslings could do.
When all goslings are six months old, a competition is provided for them called, The Games. It had five contests: honking, lake sliding, flying across the lake, swimming around the lake and hissing. Rufus wanted to win a ribbon.
However, when Rufus tried to honk he squeaked like a tiny field mouse. When landing on the lake, instead of sliding he sunk as soon as he hit the water.
When trying to fly he crashed into the berry bushes. When swimming his feet got tangled and he nosed into the water with his feet in the air like a duck. In hissing he sputtered. All the other goslings were doing much better.
In hopes of winning a ribbon, Rufus practiced every day. He tried scaring the dogs that walked by on leashes held by the owners. He flew every day pushing himself to fly higher. He watched the other goslings land in the water and then he copied them, pushing his webbed feet out front of him, and keeping his eyes open.
He did paddling exercises to strengthen his feet muscles. And he practiced hissing by taking in the biggest breath and blowing it out as fast as he could.
One day when the family was swimming to the other side of the lake, Mother Emma lost her necklace.
"Oh, oh, oh! My necklace fell off my neck into the lake and now it's on the bottom. Dear me!
Without any hesitation, Rufus dove down and, in a moment, came back up with the necklace in his bill. Father Tom asked, "How did you find it?"
"Oh, I just dove down and looked around until I found it."
"You can see underwater?" Mother Emma asked.
"Sure," shrugged Rufus. "It's easy."
"Okay, Rufus," Father Tom said. "Let's see if you can find this." And he tossed in the chain he wore in his vest pocket. Rufus dove and came up with the chain in his bill.
Father Tom said as he shook his head," Too bad diving isn't in the competition."
The next day Rufus had an idea. He swam out to the middle of the lake where the coach was working on his list of competitors and boldly told the coach. "I want a competition diving for things. I'm really good at that."
While the coach was making a note on his list he looked up at Rufus and answered, "Oh, I don't think that's a good idea, Rufus. Canada Geese don't dive to the bottom of the lake for things."
Rufus hung his head, looked away and started back towards the shore.
Then the coach fumbled and dropped his pen in the lake. "Oh flutter. I've dropped my pen."
Rufus dove down and came back up with the pen. "Here you are, Coach. Your pen."
"Why, thank you, Rufus." said the coach, "How did you do that?"
"Oh, I can see underwater really well, Coach, and I like going to the bottom to see what's there."
A week before the Games, the coach made an announcement. "Because I've noticed that goslings can find things underwater, I've added a new contest for all of you. It's called Diving for Treasure. I'll throw these items into the deepest part of the lake. The gosling that finds them will win a ribbon."
The day of the Games arrived and Rufus did his best.
He barked like a dog when he tried to honk. When landing on the lake he slid for two feet before he sunk. In flying, he flew over the small island in the middle of the lake. In swimming he stayed right side up for five feet. In hissing he still sputtered.
And in the diving for treasure, Rufus retrieved all the items tossed in. No other gosling found any.
Rufus was honored with a first place ribbon for diving and a special ribbon for the most improved.
"We are so proud of you, Rufus," Father Tom said as he and Mother Emma stood with Rufus for a photo.
"Oh flutter, Mom and Dad. Diving is my specialty!" Rufus beamed.
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