It was my first visit to Molly’s house. The manicured front lawn was lined with towering palm trees that led up the walkway to the massive carved wooden gate of the white stucco house. It was a majestic sight, the expanse of sweeping lawn, plantation like, with the entire property surrounded by nothing but sunlight and virgin jungle, as far as the eye could see. A gaggle of geese cooled themselvs in a large goose pond next to the side of the house. There was no sound other than the crashing waves hitting the shore nearby, and the rustling of the palm leaves in the breeze.
I closed the door of Molly’s car as she preceeded me up the walkway with Victor, the caretaker for the property, following with my suitcase in hand. I stood taking in the peaceful scene and the singular silence, breathing deeply. I didn’t want to rush inside. It was then that the geese noticed me. First just one white body scooted out of the pond, moving its orange webbed feet quickly toward me, open-mouthed, hissing and honking its warning not to come closer.
“Just move fast,” Molly said, disappearing inside the front gate.
“Jesus, Molly, I didn’t know you had guard geese!” I yelled.
I stood frozen, deciding if it would be safer to try to dodge the creature and move over onto the grass, or do as Molly said and make a bee-line for the front door. With each step I took, another goose left its water haven and joined the first until finally the whole troop was coming at me at break-neck speed. There was no chance of dodging them. Praying I’d be faster than they were, I bolted for the front door, hustling down the walkway inches from their beaks. There was a cacaphony of geese honking and threatening to attack. They lunged at my ankles and I got ready to kick, hoping it wouldn’t be necessary. I guess Molly hadn’t told them I’d be coming.
Once I was safely Inside the gate, the geese went back to their pond, assuming serene poses, the little liars. A covered patio that led to the front door of the house itself. On a low wall outside the door a cage perched with two enormous, colorful macaws, squawking and hopping from one side of the cage to the other. They seemed no friendlier than the geese and even noisier. I was happy that night when Molly covered the bird cage so the parrots would finally shut up and go to sleep since my bedroom was on that side of the house and sound traveled far in the open air of the patio.
Molly loved animals of all kinds. She had brought her two cats with her from New York when she moved in with Luis Felipe, not knowing one of them was pregnant. Now there were two adult cats, plus seven kittens, and two dogs, plus the parrots and the gaggle of geese. For a while she tried keeping a donkey, but it didn’t do well in the climate and she had to give it away.
At night Molly and I would sit in the outdoor living room drinking our glasses of wine,looking at the starry sky, completely contented with the cats and dogs lying at our feet, their tales twitching with pleasant dreams. By the time I had bought my own house on the property, the dogs came running to me whenever I visited, the geese had learned to ignore me, and the parrots watched me with their beady eyes, saying nothing.. The animals and I had made our truce with each other. I thought all the creatures on the ranch would live together in harmony from then on. That’s how much I knew at the time.