The Cabrini-Green Homes used to sit here, a cluster of public housing high-rises once home to 15,000, notorious for violence and neglect by the city government. The buildings were torn down nearly a decade ago and much of this land now sits unused, a field of knee-high grass surrounded by metal fencing with intermittent signs announcing it as "PRIVATE PROPERTY."
The land is now home to new residents: a flock of geese recently settled in. They don't seem to mind the lack of amenities; in fact, they prefer it. No one bothers them here like at the lakeside parks where they must be on constant alert to defend against humans and canines intent on disturbing their afternoon flock-nap.
It's a fine place to settle for a few days – that's about how long a field lasts until the flock nibbles all the grass down to the mud – but Dorothy Goose is having a bad day. She was in the middle of her favorite dream, the one where she's in a meadow of delicious grass all to herself. In her dream, there's no ruckus from her nieces or nephews squabbling, no mean old Great-Uncle Neil strutting around and starting fights. Just her and fresh, delicious Kentucky Bluegrass as far as her beady little eyes can see. Kentucky Bluegrass is Dorothy Goose's favorite variety of grass. It's just the right amount of sweetness and has a delightfully soft texture which still manages to have just enough bite to it.
Right as she's about to tear a beak-full of sweet Kentucky Bluegrass out of the ground, a loud "HONK!!" startles her out of her slumber. Her eyes fly open just as Henrietta Goose comes in for a crash landing a few feet away, a mist of feathers and shredded grass flying up around her.
"Did you hear the news, Dorothy? The scouts found a new field, just a few miles south. We're all going to fly out in a few minutes," Henrietta squawks.
"I was in the middle of a dream! You know I get grumpy if I don't get at least 20 minutes of sleep every two hours," Henrietta mutters bitterly. "Why don't you just go without me? Maybe I can finally get my fill of grass without all of you rowdy geese gettin' in my way. You know how this city grass goes right through me, I can never quite get enough."
"Don't worry, Dorothy. You can get you your own plot all to yourself," Henrietta cheerfully replies. "I heard this new field is big enough for all of us to have our own plot!"
Begrudgingly, Dorothy picks herself up and waddles over to the others who are flapping their wings in place, stretching out in preparation to take flight. She knows that geese are traveling creatures, but she has never quite taken to the traveling life like her flock seems to have. Sometimes she feels like she's just barely keeping up with the flock and that as soon as she starts to relax and take a breath it's time to move onto the next field.
Perhaps she was meant to be born as a Mallard, Dorothy thinks to herself. "Dorothy Duck" – even her name would be better! She would settle down with a handsome drake and raise a neat little brood of eight ducklings, occasionally wandering but always returning to the same stretch of river by nightfall. Of course, she could never live the life of a water fowl. She much prefers to stay firmly on dry land and certainly can't imagine herself crassly dunking her head into the water to snatch up a lunch of water insect or trout hatchlings.
No, Dorothy is a goose through and through. She loves the thrill of flying for hours, running on pure instinct, the joy of singular purpose. She loves the first bite of grass after the flock alights in a pristine field after days of travel. She loves the way the dewy blades of grass sparkle in the first ray of sun on those chilly mornings as autumn gives way to winter, before the flock begins their journey south.
One day Dorothy will find peace in her journey and learn to cherish those beautiful moments, no matter how fleeting. But for now, her friend is with her and it's time to fly.