You say “I’ve not seen many geese this year”, and folk say “That’s because it hasn’t been cold”. But they don’t say why that matters, and the truth is that nobody knows. We think back to the last time that geese were here in good numbers, and we realise that was ten years ago when you couldn’t dig a hole in the ground for the ice. The skeins were so grand back then they’d take half an hour to move from mine to your side of the glen.

And it was bitterly cold, and there was hardly standing room for all the geese in Galloway. They had to fly round in shifts just so the tired ones could land and roost for a while, and great tatty palls of shit pattered around you when they passed overhead and darkened the sun and fair deafened you with nattering. Shooting geese was easy as pie – if you could stand to be out in the ice for more than twenty minutes at a time, you could pull the goosemeat down with a rake and save yourself the cost of a box of cartridges.

So they were here when it was cold – we can agree on that. But try and find the line between correlation and causation in all this mildery mud. If you said “It’s not been very cold this year”, folk might say “That’s because the geese haven’t come”.

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