“Is that an Arts & Crafts symbol – or just a goose?”
I don’t know if it’s an affliction we members of Garrison Keillor’s Professional Organization of English Majors (POEM) have in common or whether its shared by all Arts & Crafts enthusiasts, but we do seem to always be alert to the significance of symbolism. Blame it on the Romantic British poets Keats, Wordsworth and Shelly and their heavy reliance on symbols to subtly drive home their point, but the practice was not lost on Arts & Crafts designers – past and present – who never seem to miss an opportunity to incorporate a Glasgow rose, gingko leaf, dragonfly or stylized flower into their work.
I, too, must accept both blame and responsibility for having done the same. When we launched this website almost one year ago, I selected as our motif the flying goose immortalized by Nakajima Kaho (1866-1925) in a silk screen I discovered at a North Carolina estate sale 26 years ago. We have since utilized it in our website and our ads, plus on the tote bags, drink coasters and coffee mugs we give away at the Arts & Crafts Conference in February.
And, of course, having always lived with pets, our flying goose had to have a name and what else could you name an Arts & Crafts fowl, but Gus the Goose?
You can imagine my consternation last Saturday, then, as Leigh Ann and I were driving toward Asheville when we came upon an injured Canadian goose standing defiantly in the middle of the highway. Being a veterinarian, any inherent symbolism brooding over the situation was insignificant to Leigh Ann, who barely let me get the truck stopped and my flashers on before she was out in the road, coaxing the goose toward the safety of a nearby pasture.
I parked the truck, slowed down a few motorists and helped her hustle Gus beneath a barbed wire fence and into a thicket of brambles and scrub locust trees. It only took a few minutes to wear Gus down to the point where Leigh Ann could toss a hooded sweatshirt over him before deftly scooping him up, being careful to get a firm grip on his neck and his potent beak.
Gus, however, seemed resigned to his fate, whatever that might be, and relaxed in her arms as we slid the two of them back into the truck and headed off in search of a safe place to release him. As we did, Leigh Ann did a quick assessment, determining that neither his wings nor his legs were broken, but that a car may have bruised his hip.
A mile away we found a stream and nearby pond that we knew our local geese frequented. Leigh Ann gingerly made her way through the gate and across the pasture, where she lifted the sweatshirt off Gus and watched to see how he would respond. Gus stood, stretched and opened his wings to rearrange his feathers, then limped over to the stream, jumped in and began paddling toward the pond.
Of course, just ask any English major – or Arts & Crafts fanatic.
Until next Monday,
PS – Just place your cursor over the photograph to get a better view of Gus.