Less than three weeks ago, we were shedding jackets paddling up to Ghost Bay in our kayaks. And on Friday, November 10th, this! Our weather station said it was 12 degrees just before dawn. Official reports put it at 8.

On Saturday, Long Lake played host to a raft of Buffleheads, both male and female. They were bobbing up and down like crazy, no doubt trying to bulk up for the rest of their migration south. These tiny, big-headed ducks pass through in spring and fall–with the occasional itinerant individuals at other times. The males have that big white bonnet on the sides and back of their head. The females have the smaller, white side-patches on their heads. We don’t typically see this many in one group.

And then? And then, first came one lone Canada Goose paddling around the bay in front of our cottage in the north end of the lake just beyond the narrows. Maybe a scout? We hoped not. Next there were three. And then, this.

They aren’t coming ashore, yet, even though they may look like they are thinking about it. Maybe our adirondack sentinels and the beginning of our snow fence will keep them at bay. In bay, rather. “These aren’t the lawns you’re looking for…move along.”

Dear Canada Geese,


I am writing to let you know that your weeks-long visit to Hillman’s Long Lake is not exactly making my days. In the late spring and summer months, three pair of you stay on our lake and raise your young ones here. They are enough of a nuisance that many of us have tried a number of katy-bar-the-door techniques, to keep you off our lawns.

Personally, I’ve tried alligator decoys. Maybe some of you remember Headley.


Headley was supposed to reach some deep place in your breed memory and remind you that alligators eat you in places south.

He didn’t work. Even his jewel-like eyes didn’t work.

Next the internet was filled with glowing reports of how a coyote decoy would do the trick.


All that trick did was scare me, and our guests, every time we came upon it. There was enough goose poop in the vicinity of the coyote that I gather some of you have a perverse sense of humor.

Yes, fencing works. But only if every neighbor wants to hem themselves in just to hem you out.

But really. This is ridiculous. We’ve spent more than three weeks with you floating around the lake in large gangs. You aren’t coming out of the water to feed as much as usual, but lordy some people with those nice green lawns are in for a terrible surprise in the spring. The little gift packages you’re leaving behind will break down some by then, but not totally.

I am writing to let you know that we are a lake that is very inhospitable when it comes to geese. Lately, for example, I’ve discovered you don’t like old ladies in long white bathrobes running out of the house noisily opening and closing a big brown umbrella in your general direction.

Long Lake will be frozen soon and I figure you’ll finally get the message and leave. In the meantime, whatever inner compass brings you back to places (and I know it’s a myth that you have a magnet in your beak), just be certain you don’t come back here in the spring.


“This is not the lake you’re looking for.” Please. Please. “Move along, nothing to see here.”