Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Egyptian geese

There is no need for an alarm clock in Cape Town. Egyptian geese do the job. Alopochen aegyptiacus is a noisy creature, and busy. A pair alighted in the Aleppo pine right outside my hotel window well before dawn on the first day, honking for South Africa. Later, in the Company Gardens, I watched with real admiration as a mother Egyptian goose herded her brood of fluffy goslings into the rose garden to demolish the iceberg patch, undeterred by baboons. But for me the Egyptian goose also rang a loud and persistent aesthetic bell. It is so obviously the same creature that found its way into the Old-Kingdom, fourth-dynasty mastaba of Nefer-maat (2613–2494 B.C.), who was a brother of the man responsible for building the great pyramid at Giza. After at least 45 centuries descendants of those famous geese of Meidum in the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo are alive and well, and merrily shitting all over Cape Town.

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