Tell Me a Story about … Knickknacks!

Do people still use this term to identify those odds and ends of figurines and such which decorate our homes? Or maybe I should have said, “… that FILL our homes!” Well, at least for some of us (like me!)

What do your knickknacks say about you? About your family? Your lifestyle?

Are they collectibles? Antiques? Souvenirs from trips? Heirlooms? Pieces from bubblegum machines?

Do they sit on end tables or bedroom dressers? In curio cabinets away from tiny fingers and/or paws? Or do they fill every nook and cranny of available space to set them (like mine!): in front of books, on top of the microwave, on the windowsills?

When I think of the knickknacks which literally fill my home, I see trips to souvenir shops with my parents and then our own daughters. My favorites were and still are the cedar boxes to hold treasures untold. I also collected the tiny bone-china animal sets, the ones with the itty-bitty chains sometimes connecting a mother and two babies.

And when I think of those bone-china sets, I recall a wall shelf I had when we first got married. It was white with plastic gilt cornices, a mirror in the back, and little shelf areas on which to place my tiniest knickknacks. Several sets of bone-china animals sat there beside porcelain horses, many from my mother’s horse collection. It also held several ceramic animals, such as the cutest cocker spaniel puppy with long black ears.

And when I think of those ceramics, I remember the years my mom had a ceramic kiln in our basement. First, she poured the “slip” (the gray-beige liquid that turns into ceramics) into the molds. After the hardening process, she unmolded the delicate “greenware,” which we wiped with sponges and used a tool to scrape off the line from the mold. These were then fired in the kiln, a long wait for those of us anxious to begin painting!

And when I think of painting, I consider the plethora of paint types. If stains, the colors showed up right away: red was red, blue was blue. And they didn’t need fired again, just sprayed with a clear acrylic coat. If glazes, the colors could be confusing. Gray could turn white or blue when fired; pink could turn red or purple. The choices included pearls, crackle-tones, milk glass, and more. Those ceramic pieces made their way into the knickknack world as gifts for family and friends or on our own special shelving.

And when I think of that shelving, I remember the discarded displays my dad brought home from his job. Several of these shelves still sit in my home, filled with books. One brings a nostalgic sigh of wishing I still had it. It resembled an open hutch: two bottom shelves about four feet long and eighteen inches between, a shelf with the top piece sitting on it, and the top piece with multiple smaller shelves jutting towards the center from both sides. I created seasonal displays with my knickknacks on that top shelf.

And when I think of those displays, I think of how I recreated them on the sills of the bay windows in our current home. I place my animal knickknacks—such as a heavy plaster bear, plastic and porcelain deer, a bone-china skunk set from my youth, and porcelain ducks with bottoms intended for use as clothes brushes—amidst pieces of driftwood, pinecones, and silk flowers. A forest scene appears. Or maybe I choose the ceramic dogs and cats, Breyer horses and ponies, a couple fur-covered critters. A petting zoo style scene covers the sill.

Ah, knickknacks! Where else can I put them? Where can I tuck that black stallion figurine from Mom’s collection or that sweet resin cardinal I bought last year? And don’t even get me started on my Christmas knickknacks!

How about your house? Does it abound with knickknacks? Or do you follow the current trend to minimalism? Tell us a story about your favorite knickknack, past or present. Oh, my favorite? Too many to choose from, but this one says it all: a tiny stand-alone plaque with a bird and the words: “Home is where your story begins.”

Tell Me a Story about … Toads!

Remember the classic children’s stories about Frog and Toad, two amphibians made immortal by Arnold Lobel? Well, the stories I have to tell don’t deal with the sometimes-slimy frogs, such as the bullfrog who belches in our creek or the leopard frogs my husband tries not to squish with his lawnmower. Nope, these stories tell the tales of toads, the lumpy-bumpy amphibian friend of Frog.

My first memories come from our times at the hunting cabin in Potter County. Hazy summer afternoons often found relief from the heat through a thunderstorm. Though I hated the sound of the thunder reverberating through the mountain and the thought of the lightning maybe striking one of the trees and toppling it onto the cabin, squashing us like bugs, I loved the aftermath—toad hunting!

As soon as darkness fell, young and old gathered buckets and piled into the station wagon. Dad drove to deserted dirt roads and slowed to about 5 m.p.h. He and Mom watched the headlight-lit road, while my two brothers and I waited on the backseat for our turn to jump out and capture the toads which hopped about the roads after rainstorms. Of course, frogs also made their appearances, but being quicker and slipperier than their amphibian counterparts, we didn’t catch many of those. Soon, our buckets resounded with the croaks and garumps of tiny to giant, meatball-sized toads.

One year, Dad let my brother bring a bucketful of these creatures home to put in our terrarium. Unknown to my father, my brother hadn’t followed the rule to keep the bucket’s lid closed on the trip. Somewhere along Route 15, my dad hollered, pulled over to the side of the highway, leaped out of the car, and began jumping around on the roadside! Apparently, some tiny amphibians had decided to leave their metal domicile and hide in my dad’s pants! What a hullabaloo that was! I believe from then on, any livestock were kept in the back of the station wagon.

Another time, when our daughters were young, we forgot to bring a bucket with us when we hopped in the car to go toad-hunting. My sister-in-law, not to be denied the fun, found an empty Pringles® potato chip can in their car. Unfortunately, fleshy toads plopped on top of each other in a 2-inch diameter can don’t enjoy the comfort … and air … of a well-ventilated bucket. We won’t go into what we found when we returned to the cabin, but the memory of my sister-in-law, who probably had never touched a toad in her youth, stopping the car and insisting to be the one to jump out and capture all the toads herself will forever be cherished.

One final story, a more recent one … as in just last year! Our daughter, the one who sometimes admits to being the mother of our two grandsons (ages 5 and 3 at this writing), invited me to her home to make “toad abodes.” The boys wanted to make homes for the toads they kept seeing at their house. Sarah had gotten some old pottery planters, gathered paints and other supplies, and took everything outside. The boys, Sarah, and I painted the planters and glued glass baubles and beads, pinecones, acorns, bits of bark, burlap, and more to the dry pottery. We even added a few locust shells we found on their trees.

With more paint on the boys than their pots and pinecones glued to their fingers, we finished the project, and I took my “toad abode” home to place it on the stoop to our front yard. Alas, no toads thought this a fitting home. Not even a good place to take a nap. One day, months later, my husband found a toad, forced it inside the “toad abode,” and took a photo to send to our grandsons. They were delighted … even if the toad was not!

Do you have any toad stories from your childhood or more recent years? Live toads, book toads, figurine toads, jewelry toads … doesn’t matter what kind! Share your toad story with us! Blessings!

Tell Me a Story about … Magazines!

FOF 1 A (3)How recently have you meandered into a bookstore and checked out the magazine racks … and racks … and racks? Even with the number of magazine publishers closing, there remains a plethora of choices to fit any age, any interest. Women’s magazines full of recipes and homemaking tips. Men’s magazines filled with car engines and fishing lures. Kids’ magazines with puzzles and coloring pages. How can anyone decide on just one?

Being a writer and having an extra share of cFOF 1 C (2)reativity, when it came to teaching our daughters about writing, I chose not to focus on reports—the dreaded book reports of elementary school and those nasty 10-pagers of secondary levels. I figured the skills necessary to write those scholarly pieces could come through a more fun and no-less-educational foray into the world of magazine-making.

While studying animals, we created whole magazines with stories, poems, and more. Pictures cut out of glossy nature magazines and pasted on notebook paper allowed them to write short articles about the animals, which included a bit of research and teaching on journalism styles. Lists of horse breeds or FOF 2 B (2)habitats became word search puzzles. Pictures made from those old trace-and-color books became “Color Your Own Picture” pages.

Even comic strips drawn on blank sheets of copy paper offered lessons: art, dialogue, comedy writing. Add construction paper covers and staples to hold them all together and we had a magazine to treasure … and put in the portfolios for proof of our lessons in English, math, sciencFOF 2 A (3)e, art, and more.

With ten years between the first two daughters’ school years and their sister Faith’s, I had the joy of doing this exercise twice. I remember Faith called her magazine Kit’s Kreatures, after her favorite American Girl.

But Faith didn’t stop there. One day she came to me and said, “MaFOF 2 C (2)ma, I want to make my own magazine and sell subscriptions to it!” And so we did … and Focus on Fun was born.

Over the next four years, Faith developed, designed, and co-wrote her own 16-page magazine, with as many as 22 subscriptions one year. We kitchen-table published it, as professionally as we could, being lucky enough to own a copier (perks of a husband who works in the office products industry). Though often stressed to get the current issue out on time, we still enjoyed the brainstorming for each issue, choosing new “columns” and other articles to write.

This venture also gave Faith an incredible foundation in running her own business with credits and debits, overhead and invoices. The entire experience filled her homeschool FOF 1 B (2)days with more learning, academic and life-skills, than any 10-page research paper would have brought her. And it was a whole lot more fun!

The photos included with this post are from various issues of Focus on Fun. If anyone is interested in how we went about this, contact us at legaciesletloose@gmail.com!

*** Have you ever written a magazine article? Do you read any magazines regularly? Share your thoughts with us! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** If you leave a comment, check back for my reply to it. I always respond to comments!

Tell Me a Story about … a Lane!

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane … or at least down the memories of a certain lane, the one leading from the main road to the cabin we call camp.

Dirt or grassy lanes draw me, entice me to follow them. Deer trails, hiking paths, even lawn mower tracks say, “Come see where I go!” But I know exactly where the lane to the cabin goes—my heaven on earth.

No matter how old I get, the thrill of watching as we round the 8-20-18 Bbends in the road from Galeton, PA, toward camp never lessens. I inch forward on the seat, straining against the seatbelt, picturing the final turn. There it is! The farm where the owner lives and the barn where he used to milk his cows in days gone by. (I would watch the owner’s kids bring the cows from the pasture, across the creek, and down the lane to the barn, only to repeat it the next morning in reverse.) The lane, tucked between the two buildings, never changes, except from rutted and dusty in the hottest months to rutted and muddy from recent rain showers.

8-20-18 ARounding the first corner, we come to a one-lane wooden bridge. I close my eyes and bring back the times when, as youths, my brothers or I would get out of the car to unhook and re-hook the chains across the entrance and exit of the bridge, although we could never understand why they needed a chain stretched across both ends of a one-car-length bridge. Today, no chains bar the way, but the ghosts of them clank in my mind as we cross.

I’m now almost bouncing in my seat like a toddler on a jumping horse. Another few yards and I’ll be able to see the cabin! There’s the other camp on the right which never has any vacationers, but where we once saw a bear digging in the rusty burn barrel in plain daylight. My mom had wound her window down to talk to him … until he advanced toward the car. Wow, could she ever wind up a window fast! Good thing it wasn’t one of those slow-moving automatic jobs, right?

“We’re here! We’re here!” Echoes of our joyous cries from childhood mingle with today’s yaps of our dog as he catches onto my excitement, not really understanding it, but knowing it must be something fun. And oh, how right he is. But it’s also so much more—it’s family, it’s home, it’s8-20-18 E (2) heaven—even if it’s only for a week.

We pull up in front of the porch and I push at the car door, wondering why it won’t open, then laughing at myself for not pulling on the handle first. The first gurgling of the creek hits my ears, the first musty scent from the open cabin door fills my nose and my memories, taking me back to the days of my youth, when four scrambling dogs, three wild kids, and two grateful parents poured from the side doors and back hatch of our loaded-down-and-overflowing station wagon.

We’re here! The end of the lane—but not the end of the memories, not when we make new ones each time we drive back this particular memory lane.

*** Where has a lane led you in your life? Tell us about it! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Next week’s post sports one of my favorite photos our photographer daughter has taken!

 

Tell Me a Story about … a Creek!

8-13-18 C (2)Thunder echoed through the hollow, rattling the loose window pane in the cabin door. The afternoon’s thunderstorm had grown into a wailing, angry force, and with the darkness, it seemed to be trying to fight its way inside the cabin. Rain pounded the roof, wind howled and whipped the walls and windows. Lightning bolts streaked across the night sky, leaving eerie periods of illumination.

Inside the cabin, most of the children and adults slept through the ruckus. Some of us, however, could not. Thunder storms bouncing around the mountains could scare an avid storm-chaser, but this one seemed more intense than any before. It roared overhead and burst from the hollow as though chased by unseen demons.

We could hear the water of the small creek, which had gently flowed between its banks during 8-13-18 Bthe earlier part of the day, change to something from a movie about whitewater rafting. Huge crashes, one after another, sounded like dynamite exploding, first up the hollow a ways, then closer, in front of the cabin in which we sat listening, shivering, wondering if the building would blow apart any second.

After the long night of sleepless terrors, the morning showed the incredible power of the storm. The sun had returned, but the torrential rains had swollen the creek, swirling waters pounded the banks, seeking an outlet to the tension from the night before. The ground felt swampy beneath our feet.

What astounded us most was the layout of the creek itself. It did not resemble that of 8-13-18 Ayesterday, nor of the years I’d spent wading its waters. During the night, what we mistook for thunder was huge boulders tossed by rising waters. Rocks, as large as monster truck tires, had been tossed like leaves across the water and deposited in another section of the creek hundreds of feet downstream. The power necessary to uproot these boulders from where they’d sat for who knows how long and tumble them like children’s building blocks to a new resting place, seemed unimaginable. We’d heard it, we saw the aftermath, but we couldn’t take it in.

 That storm made us more aware of our human frailty and God’s power. He created the earth with a word, causes the storms to rumble, commands the sun and moon to rise and set. His power can toss a boulder, crumble it to bits, yet He created us, frail human beings who need His help to breathe and live each day. And He does so because He loves us. Wow … 

 *** Do you have a memory about a creek you’d like to share with us? Please do! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, a post written while vacationing this weekend at this wonderful place!

 

Tell Me a Story about … Camp!

Only four days! Four days until we pack the car with duffel bags, pillows, sleeping bags … and the dog, and head for Potter County and CAMP!Potter County!!

Oh, how I love that word! That place! Camp to others may mean somewhere they attended as a child—playing games and learning songs around a campfire for a week each summer. To some it brings memories of camping adventures, with a tent or an RV, doing all the same things as at summer camps only with family and close friends.

But to me, “camp” holds all my most-cherished memories. Over the life of this blog, I’ll share many of those with you, starting with the posts for August, one of our favorite months to go there.

The cabin we call “camp” sits at the base of a mountain and at the mouth of a hollow, alongside a creek, in the Blue Mountain range of Potter County, PA. The Jolly 9 Hunting Club rents the cabin for its members to use during hunting and fishing seasons. These members can reserve times to take their families and friends there for vacations.

Our extended family all planned their vacation times for the same week and traveled by caravan. A hand waved out a window or flashing headlights seen in a rear-view mirror alerted others to stop for a bathroom break for kids or dogs. The trip included a picnic lunch beside the “rusty creek,” a gorgeous, shaded pine grove by the side of a creek with mineral deposits which caused the rocks to become rust-colored.
Camp!!!
Upon arrival at camp, everyone chose their favorite bunks and unpacked. Having so many people together in a three-room cabin, caused quite a bit of noise. With the original exposed beams on the ceiling and walls, we could really “make those rafters ring.” From the smallest child to the oldest adult, merry-making filled the days and nights.

By day, we waded in the creek less than a stone’s toss from the front porch or played the old-fashioned game of quoits, similar to horseshoes except with donut-shaped rubber quoits to toss over the posts. At night, we went spotting deer and toad-finding (after a rainstorm), finishing off with cocoa, hot enough to make it gooey with melting marshmallows. Then we’d break out the cards and play rounds of rummy, Uno, or Blitz until well after midnight, a double delight for us kids.

In fact, the only activity in this idyllic place which did not include the word “fun” was the necessary treks to the outhouse. But no one seemed to truly mind … well, except my one sister-in-love, who detested any speck of dirt and would have gladly scrubbed it down with Clorox and Lysol. One time, my dad snuck out before she got up in the morning and posted a sign on the outhouse door: “Sister’s dreamhouse”! (Name changed to protect the innocent!)

Camp! Less than four days to go! See you there!

*** What does the word “camp” bring to your memory bank? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Next week, another post about this marvelous place!

 

Tell Me a Story about … Peanut Butter!

Faith

Photo by Ian Wallace

I’m proud to give you the first guest post by our daughter Faith Weaver. Faith is a dancer, writer, and an incredible young woman-of-God. Watch for the link for her coming blog for her first novel! (She is also the amazing photographer of many of the photos I use on this blog, including the one below of her writing desk!)

It sticks to the roof of your mouth. It adds just the right amount of savory to chocolate. It makes everything sticky. And it helps writer’s block. Yes, that’s right. Peanut butter is a magical property that can seep into your brain cells and unlock the deepest blocks when it comes to writing. So, when I think of peanut butter, I don’t taste peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and Reese’s on my smores. I don’t think of sticking my finger in a brand-new jar of Jif (family tradition that grosses my husband out). I think of writing.

When I was young, my mom taught me the love of writing, just as she did my sister. I would sit beside them as they wrote, listening to them tap the keyboards as they poured out their thoughts, and then suddenly, silence. The quiet consumed the room as they 7-23-18 Bthought of what wonderful words they should type next. Then came the well-known sound of the backspace bar as sentences were written … re-written … deleted … changed … written the same way as the first time … and then deleted again. Finally, one of them would grab a jar of peanut butter which was never too far away, and they’d scoop out a spoonful to eat as they thought. Somehow, the magic never failed and soon they would be back to typing away.

Eventually, I became curious and asked what was so special about the jar of peanut butter, to which they replied that the peanut butter was “Writing Peanut Butter,” and it helped with writer’s block. It was like joining a secret club! My excitement over sharing something so special with my mom and sister, whom I idolized as a kid, made me feel like I was walking on clouds. And the biggest surprise: it worked! The peanut butter was actually magic! As I grew, I always had a jar of peanut butter beside the computer, and when I moved out, it was the first thing I bought for my home office. (NOTE: Generic brands aren’t magic, they’re just messy!)

7-23-18 ANow, as the Montrose Christian Writers Conference draws closer, I am spending more and more time in front of my computer trying to write furiously. But with extra writing comes extra writer’s block, and I will be forever grateful that my mom and sister instilled me with the great peanut butter secret. Dipping a spoon into a jar of creamy goodness (crunchy peanut butter is an abomination) always starts my creative juices flowing again. I like to think the stickiness is pulling the block away, leaving a fresh path of thought in its wake. As I’ve said before and I’ll say again: “Writing Peanut Butter to the rescue!”

*** What does opening a new jar of peanut butter mean to you? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** The week after the writers’ conference always means anticipation! It’s also the end of my Christmas-in-July events. Check the post next week to see what I’ll be doing to anticipate the actual December 25th celebration of Christ’s birth!

Tell Me a Story about … July!

7-16-18 F This week’s story word begins with a capital letter: July. Most people in PA think summer, Independence Day, swimming, picnics, and vacations. I could stories about those, some funny (one vacation in Potter County when I slept in a bed with my aunt, woke during the night, whacked her with my stuffed horse, then lay down and went to sleep), some exciting (the 4th of July fireworks display in Galeton, PA, where we sat right under the place they exploded and had embers cascading over us), some scary (the year 1995 when I went into premature labor around eight weeks into the pregnancy and was put on immediate bedrest for the duration … all went well in the end, daughter #3 only three weeks early).

However, I want to share a story about a special Christmas-in-July gift. I’ve loved7-16-18 B (2) everything Christmas since I shoved off the covers Christmas morning, anxious for Mom and Dad to call us to come down to check what filled our stockings. Fun traditions from my childhood Christmases spilled over into our daughters’ lives, including a few new ones. I’ll share about those in detail over December blog posts (I know, teaser!).

Though the true origins of these celebrations seem muddled, one report stands out as, if nothing else, a cute story. During a summer camp in NC during the 1930s, a co-founder, described as a “creative type,” decided to add a unique tradition to their camp activities: Christmas-in-July. Their celebrations included Christmas trees, makeshift laundry-bag stockings, and camp-wide gift exchanges.

Regardless of its start, I latched onto this extra chance to celebrate Christmas in our home! We listen to Bing Crosby singing “White Christmas,” watch The Miracle on 34th Street, and spend time coloring pictures of verdant holly wreaths and jaunty snowmen. We even drink cocoa in 90-degree weather! If we use our imagination, we could see snowflakes drifting and hear sleigh bells ringing.

The summer of 2016 found me in the doldrums. My aunt’s cancer alarmed us all with its rapid growth. A family friend died in a horrible accident. I procrastinated (again) so long on a writing project that I missed the deadline, after putting in hours of work to make it publishable. Our new puppy began acting out in negative ways and demanding more attention than I had energy for.

7-16-18 E (2) One hot day, our daughter, Faith, brought me a delightful surprise—a Christmas-in-July gift! She’d stopped at our local florist for a bouquet of red, green, and white flowers. The owner searched for a tiny Christmas notecard and a plastic Christmas tree pick to add to the festive holiday ensemble. Faith had also picked up a new notebook and a two-pack of pretty designer pens for me to use on a special writing project. And she topped it off with a cold bottle of Starbucks’ vanilla Frappuccino.7-16-18 A (2)

Faith knew my heart, knew the month’s events had left my spirit lagging. Her Christmas-in-July surprise hit its intended target—love and care for her mama. But then, what would any Christmas celebration be without the love of family and of Our Savior?!

*** What do the hot days of summer bring to your mind? Share your July story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** In honor of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference where you will find me next week, the blog post will have something to do with … well, with writing!

 

Tell Me a Story about … a Pickle

         7-9-18 B (2)When I think of words which entice memories from all five senses, pickles come early on the list. I see mounded dirt covered with green vines, tiny hands moving the leaves to peek at midget cucumbers growing. I feel prickly skins as I scrubbed them prior to slicing and dicing for canning. I smell pervasive odors of onions and vinegar as we mixed them with the pickling 7-9-18 C (2)spices. And taste … ah, those canned bread and butter pickles, a bit sweet, a bit tart. My senses reel with the memories.

          “What about sound?” you say? Everyone knows the crunch of a crisp dill pickle, the slurp of a tongue catching the juice. But for me, the thought of a dill pickle brings a much different sound—that of an organ. Not playing hymns in church (whoever heard of dill pickles at a worship service!) but jazzing away with what I cherished as “skating music.”

7-9-18 F          At the roller rink where I spent my teen years, they offered live organ music to skate by. I can still hear lilting melodies perfect for free-spirited wheeling around the floor. Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” melted into “Rockin’ Robin” from the 1950s. We “shook, rattled, and rolled” with Bill Haley’s hit, then slowed for a couples’ skate to Bobby Darin’s “Dream Lover.” Since it was the 1970s, they also played recorded music, but this girl’s heart came alive when the organist came off break and the real music began.7-9-18 A (2)

          “But what about pickles?” you ask. Ah, yes, pickles. The snack bar contained plenty to give hungry teenagers something to rebuild their energy: hot pizza, icy slushies, sweet candy, salty soft pretzels. I’d pay my quarter and watched the seller fish out a huge, dripping, forest green dill pickle from the humongous jar. I’d take it to a corner booth and crunch away, happy and satisfied with life at the skating rink.

7-9-18 E (2)          Today, another pickle brings me much joy, and since it IS Christmas-in-July time, let’s talk about it! Early in our daughters’ childhood, we found a unique ornament—a blown-glass pickle with a story. Always drawn to things with stories, we read how the pickle tradition started in Germany. Parents hid the ornament in the Christmas tree after the children fell asleep. Christmas morning found the kiddos scrambling to be the first to find the pickle, for the one who did received an extra gift! We bought that pickle and continue to hang it today, granting the find-ee a special gift (usually something to share with everyone—a box of Pop Tarts or cocoa).

          Pickles! When God created the cucumber, do you think He had any idea they’d fill a girl’s life from gardens to roller skating rinks to Christmas trees?

 *** What senses does the word “pickle” set off for you? Please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

*** Do you celebrate “Christmas-in-July”? We do! See how in next week’s blog!         

Tell Me a Story about … a Goose!

          A “gaggle” of memories flies about geese. Of course, that isn’t grammatically correct, but using it is such fun! I remember studying farm animals in our homeschool and how we giggled at the idea of a gaggle of geese, as a group of them is called.

          In fact, most of my geese memories involve laughter. One vacation in Potter County, PA, we visited Ole Bull State Park for a hike and a picnic. A wide creek runs through the park. We walked out on the bridge separating the picnic area from the campground to check out the fish swimming under the bridge.

7-2-18 A
      Photo courtesy of Janice Kelley. http://www.naturelegacies.com

           About twenty yards upstream, some Canadian geese floated on the creek. In a movement I’d never before witnessed, one goose upended itself in the water, totally vertical, its tail pointing straight at the sky. One by one, more geese followed suit. The sight of a half-dozen geese bottoms sticking straight up out of the water looked so hilarious, I dissolved in a fit of giggles. Giggles at gaggles again!

          The geese remained in their ungainly position for so long, I feared they’d drown. Then, pop! One righted itself. Pop, pop, pop! Soon all the geese floated as normal geese should. But before I could recover, more geese flipped over, tails waving at the sun. Another round of giggles, and another pop, pop, pop! I wanted to watch and laugh the day away, but Kevin insisted he’d had enough silliness and wanted to take our hike. I recall thinking they resembled ducks at a shooting gallery—up, down, up, down.

         One more smile-producing goose memory goes back even more years to when we lived beside a couple who farmed their small plot of land. They enjoyed working their garden together, growing most of their own vegetables. Often, we received overflowing baskets of corn or strawberries from their caring arms.

          Valeria, the woman of the house, fashioned decorations out of just about anything she could find. One year, she called me over to see her newest creation. She’d taken a neck 7-2-18pumpkin (not the jack-o-lantern kind, but the let’s-bake-a-pie kind) and turned it into a goose! She stood it up, painted eyes on the small head-end, painted the stem-beak black, and added a felt scarf around its neck. I smiled at her ingenuity and creative spirit. Set by our Ben Franklin stove with a few gourds tucked around his “feet,” he made quite a fetching fall display.

          So, yes, the mournful cries of a large V of geese flying south for the winter may be what many people think of with geese, but to me, I remember laughter—giggling at gaggles! I’m sure God laughed, too, when He taught them to turn upside down in the water and watched them go pop, pop, pop!

 *** Do you have a “gaggle” of goose stories? Even if just one, please, share your story! Click on the words beside the date of this post. Scroll down to the box with the heading, “Leave a reply.” Thank you for sharing!

 *** Can you guess next week’s post topic? Words associated with it: sour, sweet, bread-and-butter!