Alfred Hitchcock had nothing on Brookline. You may not think of Brookline as a scary place, with its rolling hills, nurturing schools, snappy urban thing and placid parks. Especially placid parks.
Like many here, I especially love Brookline in the summer. Then I can take advantage of its loveliness, particularly by riding my bike in places that are far more congested during the rest of the year, or by taking a (fairly) solitary run at the Reservoir.
Last week I slipped out of my house for a Rezzie run, before everyone was fully awake and while the sun was still a gentle but insistent presence rather than a blaring ball of fire. I parked in my usual spot, the shady place just before the water fountain. As I swung my leg over the fence, I froze. There, not 20 feet away, was a coyote.
It was looking right at me, and it was quivering in a way that reminded me of a cat getting ready to pounce. I backed up and got into my car. I dialed information, to connect me to the non-emergency number of the police, even though this seemed almost like an emergency because the animal was acting very strange. I kept my eyes trained on it, terrified that it would race off and attack one of the other runners.
The other runners. I thought, “Don’t the other runners see this? Why aren’t they afraid? Stupid people, ignoring potentially rabid animals.”
Just then, the wind picked up. And I saw a flash, an edge — around the coyote. The coyote was actually only an inch thick! Fake! What the —? I hung up my phone before the police picked up. I laughed out loud and started my run.
As I moved down the length of the pond, I noticed an odd thing. No geese. Of course! The cardboard coyote must have been put there to scare them off, much the same way my dad puts up plastic owls everywhere to scare off woodpeckers. Set a thief to catch a thief, or something like that.
But just as I rounded the corner by the pump house, there they were, a whole gaggle of geese. A googol of a gaggle. And, as usual, I had to gingerly pick my way through them as they fed. I continued on my route, realized happily that there were no more geese anywhere else, and I could see why: more cardboard coyotes. So the geese had gathered in the one place where there were no decoys.
I ran more freely than ever, liberated from my fear of a wild goose chase. I saw a police truck nearby, from animal control. I stopped. “Hey,” I said to the cop in there. “Did you guys do that?” He stared blankly at me. He probably had to take a few seconds to realize what this strange sweaty runner was talking about. “The coyotes,” I explained. “I thought it was real when I first saw one.” Then the cop laughed.
“The town did it,” he said, “But we’ve been trying to get them to for years.”
“Oh,” I said. My mind started churning. Being a Town Meeting member and a former School Committee member, I am well acquainted with the Byzantine nature of Brookline politics. I could only imagine the intrigues, the machinations, the process that went on behind the scenes to get those damned decoys to the Rez. Had I somehow missed the Selectmen’s Committee on Geese? The Goose Study? The warrant article on geese removal? The debate on egg-oiling versus scrambling?
I guess so. But as I kept running around the (mostly) goose-free track, with the decoys flapping at me from nearly every corner, I felt happy and safe. I figured that even though I did not know who the good guys were in this latest bit of Brookline flap, somehow the plan had worked. No one was honking at me.
Only in Brookline would you find Wile E. Coyote actually protecting the Road Runner. Beep, beep.
Copyright 2008, Susan Senator