Amongst the brawny rushes and reeds of the Western Marshlands, where rivers trickle and trail over fresh sea worms and salamanders, live a gaggle of peculiar geese. There are 3 different types of geese that occupy the western marsh; The Anser gaggle, whose feathers are grey and beaks very long; the Branta gaggle, whose feathers are black and sleek; and the Chen gaggle, whose feathers are pristine white and hate to become dirty. The Geese all make distinctly different sounds when they open their beaks to talk. The Branta make a “HANK!” sound, the Chen make the most familiar goose sounds of “HONK!” and whenever the Anser geese open their beaks to speak, a high pitched “QUACK!” sound bellows out. Whilst the goose families all make slightly different sounds, and have slightly different coloured feathers, this doesn’t matter too much as they are geese after all.
Each family of geese live in in their own section of the marshlands, happily going about their goosey business, doing goosey things day in, day out. Occasionally the geese will fly or float into each other and ruffle one anothers’ feathers. The gaggle of Chen Geese become most annoyed when an Anser or Branta ruffle their lily white feathers, because they claim they have the most beautiful and soft feathers of all of the Western Marshlands. And because they have the most beautiful feathers, they should always be heard.
However, white feathered Chen gaggle did not always boss the other gaggle of geese around. A very long time ago, the Branta gaggle ruled the Western Marshlands and lived in harmony with the land. Their black feathers were perfect for protecting their goosey skin from the harsh, marshland’s morning sun. All the animals in the marshlands lived happily with one another, and treated each other as equals. The slimy green frogs would ribbit and croak as the Branta floated past, and sand crabs would nip and clip their claws toward the sun, as it rose from its sleepy slumber and started to warm the critters, floaters and crawlers of the Western Marshlands.
Until one very humid and stormy afternoon the white feathered Chen Geese rampaged the shallow waters of the Western Marshlands. Hundreds of Chen Geese landed in the spiky reeds and rushes, and honked at the Branta Geese to immediately give them land. The Branta Geese protested and bellowed “HANK! HANK! HANK!” at the Chen Geese. The Chen Geese did not listen to a single angry “HANK!” and soon claimed an unjust victory over the black feathered, Branta Geese homes.
The white-feathered Chen Geese were without a doubt big, mean, bullies. They became very controlling about what migratory birds were allowed and weren’t allowed to stop over and nest in the Western Marshlands. As years past, and the black-feathered Branta Geese slowly disappeared, more and more grey feathered Anser Geese began to float down the shallow waters of the very green and luscious Western Marshlands. Eventually they made their nests, hatched their young and burrowed for worms in the most western part of the Western Marshlands.
The white-feathered Chen Geese became suspicious of the very grey Anser family. Their feathers were a muddy grey, (and looked like they could have been white once upon a time), but had spent too much time rolling in the Marshland’s sloppy mud. To the Gaggle of Chen, the Anser sounded very peculiar. Instead of honking at each other like regular, white-feathered geese, these geese… quacked! They quacked like ducks!
The Chen Geese were very upset and very scared that the Anser Geese didn’t honk to one another like the other geese. The head of the Chen Gaggle, Honky Tone, certainly didn’t like the Anser Geese and one day said,
“I don’t understand this mumbo-jumbo coming out the Anser Geese beaks, they sound like ducks! And I don’t like ducks. They can’t be real geese!”
Honky Tone became very frightened of the Anser Geese, but not because the Anser Geese were bad birds, or because they ever hurt anyone. Honky Tone didn’t understand why they quacked like ducks, and didn’t honk or look like the rest of the white-feathered geese.
You see, when some silly Chen Geese become very scared, and very unsure of differences, they resort to violence.
One day, Honkey Tone professed to all of the geese in the Marshlands,
“We must declare war on all geese that quack! Any Goose that does not Honk like the rest of the normal geese, will be put on a goose chase!”
Soon enough, the grey-feathered Anser Geese were banned from their favourite swimming holes. The white-feathered geese, who controlled entry to the water holes, spread nasty rumours to all of the geese in the Western Marshlands that Anser Geese would try and poison the fresh water for everyone.
The Anser Geese were very upset they were no longer allowed to dive for worms or float and flutter with their friends in the watering hole; a watering hole that was made for ALL geese in the Western Marshlands.
Honkey Tone particularly hated when the grey geese would cover themselves with the cool and very fresh mud of the Western Marshlands, because Honkey Tone liked to show off his white feathers. Some Anser Geese liked to cover themselves in grey mud or beautiful feathers they found in grass, and some just liked to wear their grey feathers without any mud or coloured feathers. Either way, Honkey tone said,
“I find this un-goose-like behaviour confronting,” and ordered for all Anser Geese to wash off the cool, cleansing mud, even if it was against their beliefs.
Honkey Tone encouraged all white-feathered Geese to honk very loudly and very aggressively at grey feathered Anser Geese if they floated past. Honkey Tone thought this was the best way to teach grey Anser Geese to honk like a real, Chen Goose and fit into the Western Marshlands as normal geese. Much to Honkey Tone’s disappointment, the Anser Geese continued to quack, and quack, and quack!
The Anser Geese became very tired of being chased away and excluded from their Marshland home. They quacked like ducks, because that’s how they were made; no protest, honking lesson or attacks on their goosey burrows from the Chen Geese would change their peculiar, and perfectly good “QUACK!
The Anser Geese hatched a grand plan to defeat Honky Tone and his nasty plump of white-feathered Chen Geese.
One very pink dawn, as the clouds fluffed and bloomed above the sleepy, misty morning sun, the grey-feathered Anser Gaggle gathered together on the shallow banks of the Western Marsh. They floated and flew the grassy boundaries, where the Chen gaggle slept, and waited for them wake.
Minutes passed as the pink, fluffy clouds grew and the Anser Geese assembled into a very large love heart floating on the waterhole.
Honkey Tone was the first to notice the very peculiar and very large love heart on top of the waterhole. All of a sudden extremely loud quacks roared across marshlands and filled the pink morning air with a bellow that had been previously silenced.
The Anser Geese offered loving kindness and forgiveness to the Chen Geese. They understood that it could be frightening and very scary to experience another goose culture that they were not familiar with, after all the white feathered geese honked and didn’t quack like they did! The Anser Geese quacked so loudly, and with such loving kindness they filled the hearts of all geese in the Western Marshlands with love, tolerance and grace.
The grey-feathered Anser Geese decided they would neither use violence nor spread nasty rumours, or intimidate the white-feathered Chen Geese, as they had done to them. No, the grey-feathered Geese offered kindness and humility, because they knew that difference was wonderful and to be celebrated! Even though their feathers may be grey, and they quack like ducks, they were still as goosey and loved to do goose things as much as their white-feathered friends.
From that day onwards, Honkey Tone was chased by all the geese out of the Western Marshlands and told,
“Only come back when you can celebrate difference and humility!”
And Honkey Tone was never seen again.
Edited by Robert Partleton