In the early 1900's if a person refused to move or do a physical activity, he was labeled, "stubborn as a mule." But, was the mule's stubbornness really so bad? And, is it possible the animal's refusal to obey his owner may have saved the owner's life.
A horse will continue to do its master's budding until it collapses, putting both in danger. Not so the mule! If the mule senses any type of harm might befall it or its master, it will refuse to proceed until the danger has passed. No one will ever know the number of lives, human and beast, saved by the stubbornness of a mule.
In "Merry Olde England," beginning in the 1540's, humans who acted foolishly or were considered "slow" were oftimes labeled, "silly as a goose."
Canada geese make their migratory flights at night. (All other activities take place during daylight). On their flights each goose will lead the "V" shaped formation, the most stressful position, then rotate back in order to rest and recover. In addition, any time a goose makes a change in position, it will call (honk) briefly. By doing so the entire formation is aware of the location of each member. During migration, being "silly as a goose" can be advantageous.
Uncle Bear is a writer and researcher in North Carolina. He can be reached through: