The hustle and bustle of the holiday season barely gives most people a minute to catch their breath. That is why the many memes “keep calm and put a bow on it” are always trending on social media this time of year. But for me, it is fairly quiet, and, given the fact that the weather has been mostly cooperative lately, (except for a dusting of snow this morning), I’ve gotten out to my favorite parks, just marking my time, waiting for when snow and ice will obliterate my longer walks and picture-taking adventures.
I do love Heritage Park in Taylor, Michigan for many reasons, especially the ducks and geese who gather around Coan Lake, a man-made lake adjacent to the covered bridge. Around the holidays, at night, the park is lit up on the bridge with strands of twinkling lights and the old-fashioned light poles are all aglow as well. As you can see above, and in some photos below, Heritage Park puts holiday flags on all the light poles, lending a very festive air.
On the day that I last visited here, it was very blustery and cold. I did an earlier post about the mallards that gathered near the bridge, (click here if you missed it) and this post I’m going to write about their feathered friends, the Canada Geese, which are also plentiful at the park, whether they are strolling around the grounds, or paddling in the lake. Even though the day was dull and dreary, with a sky that seemed to threaten rain any minute, this venue never disappoints. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and many of the trees still had their leaves, though the colors were somewhat subdued – likely by now, the trees are all bare. Here are some of my favorite photos and impressions from that day.
It seems a flock of geese are always on the move, often flying overhead and they give me cause to pause to look up and marvel at their formation, most of the time in a perfect V. I will watch their signal caller as I wonder, will they dip down to graze or paddle or float around in the water? I was lucky enough to capture these geese ascending and descending, respectively, in the two photos below. They honk the entire time they are doing this and I’ve never figured out if they are conveying a message to one another or simply announcing their arrival or departure to the rest of the world? (Look closely in the first picture as they are directly in front of the schoolhouse.)
The festive flags and the geese got me thinking about the impending holidays and the Canada geese who “live” at this house. My mother loved birds, especially cardinals and jays, and there are many ornaments, resin figurines and other collectibles around the house with their likeness, though she sure liked the bigger birds too. The kitchen has its collection of wooden and ceramic duck decoys, rooster items on the wall, or on top of the fridge, and then there are the geese – oh yes, the geese. There are a lot of them too; some are rustic and hand carved, some which are other mediums, like ceramic or wool and a few even have names too. (Try dusting all these fine-feathered friends … grrrrrr.)
I used to spend an entire day decorating the house (and it’s a small house) for Christmas … this required tucking items away for a month and hoping to remember where the knickknacks etc. were stored for New Year’s Day when I took everything Christmassy down and restored the house back to normal again.
Every year, my mom would say “don’t spend all your time decorating – we’re adults and there are no kids coming to the house – rest on the day after Thanksgiving!” But I persisted, saying we needed the festive ambiance in our home. My mom did her part to brighten the holiday season by decorating the Canada Geese. This entailed tying a bright-red ribbon around each one’s neck. I’d say it was her tradition, just like making Christmas cookies and the sinfully rich (and rather boozy) mincemeat tarts that would knock your socks off. She did not drink, but in July halved a bottle of candied fruit mincemeat mix and poured a liberal amount of rum in each jar; by December the mixture was pretty potent. Anyway, Mom would tie her ribbons on the geese and declare her part of the holiday decorating was done.
Here are a few pictures of my mom and me holding “Lucy” the almost life-sized Canada Goose which always sits in front of the electric fireplace in the living room. The first photo is from Christmas 1984 and the rest of the photos are from Christmas 1987, a holiday I remember very well … more on that in a minute.
I hate that some of these older pictures have a gummy residue on them from the photo albums, but, that said, these 1987 pictures were from a very non-traditional Christmas, because I had my tonsils out on December 22nd. I had my tonsils originally removed in 1972 and one “root” was left and the tonsil grew back on that side – what are the odds of that happening I wonder? I went to an ear/nose and throat doc complaining that if a person with a cold even looked at me, I’d end up with a sore throat and was sick the next day, despite eating healthy, sleeping well, taking vitamins AND having my tonsils removed already! The ENT doc peered down my throat and said “you have the remains of a tonsil my dear – as soon as your cold is over, call my office and we’ll schedule you for outpatient surgery and plan on a few days’ downtime because you’re older and it’s not so easy when you have a tonsillectomy.” I was 31 years old (that was older??)
The surgery was on Tuesday, the 22nd and I planned to use up all my sick days and took off work until the new year. I did have a few issues with my ear afterward, and this surgery complicated Christmas dinner as I was not supposed to have anything solid for about five or six days … you can do the math. Mom made many bowls of Jell-o and it was nice of her to make them in cherry and lime flavors for Christmas Day. She heated herself up a can of Campbell’s Chunky soup and ate it in the other room so I would not smell the soup and hunger for something more than Jell-o. I never even decorated at work or at home that year, save for a small tree I usually put up on my desk, as I considered Christmas kind of a lost cause that year. Here is me on Christmas Day eating Jell-o and posing near the arrangement they sent to me from work.
This year, like most years since my mom passed away in 2010, I did not decorate … oh, I put out an ornament or two, but that was it. Next year I promise myself I’ll at least put up one of the Christmas trees – there are two ceramic trees, the little one pictured on the mantel above and two miniature trees, one I took to work in later years and one here at the house … surely I can do that much right? But, despite my lackadaisical manner of decorating for the Christmas season, I smile fondly as I remember my mom announcing “my decorating is done!” Right … adding those bows to the Canada Geese. So you’ve met Lucy and these geese I have similarly adorned with their holiday bows and with that task, I have put a bow on my Christmas 2019 prep.
The first goose is Daloose – I am spelling her name phonetically as I have never had occasion to spell out her moniker. We were at a Pendleton shop buying some Winter woolen skirt suits for me (back in the days when I still got dressed up for work) and it was around Christmastime. We spotted this woolen goose which was an ornament on a shelf and asked the owner if it was for sale. No, it was not, but we explained our goose and duck collection and she parted with it … Daloose has lived at the end of the hall since the late 80s and, while not a Canada Goose, she is still displayed prominently. She used to have a silk Christmas neck ribbon and one day I was vacuuming her and the vacuum nozzle caught the ribbon and sucked the whole thing up – I let out a scream in surprise and we did not retrieve the ribbon, but simply used another one.
And then there’s Bruce – he resides in the spare bedroom. Not much character with this guy, with his bland expression and he is not as realistic looking as Lucy, but he is similarly adorned with a red bow. There are other smaller geese or geese figurines here at the house, but no more Canada Geese, since we ran out of goose-type names. 🙂
I digressed … bigtime – enough memories; now back to Heritage Park.
While meandering around Heritage Park, snapping pics of the mallards and the geese, I remembered Mom and her tradition and I fancied the geese that paraded in front of me looking like those festive geese at home. So, in preparing this post, I added a ribbon here and there … just because. What do you think – do the Heritage Park fellows look like the geese here at home?
Just like at the eye doctor always asks at your annual appointment … is this better?
… or about the same? (In this instance, it would be Canada geese au naturel.)
Of course, be-ribboning your Canada Geese doesn’t always work out, especially if you are trying your best to capture four of them in an Beatles Abbey Road-like pose like these below … c’mon guys, work with me on this … march across, no veering off the pathway. How did I do? Is that a wiggle or a struggle for y’all? Just stay on the beaten path please! You see in the second photo, one goose started to go his own way.
Back to Christmastime and Heritage Park at the holidays. The venue has such a nostalgic look and hearkens back to times long before I was ever around. Here are some more pictures around this historic park. The old-time buildings give this park its ambiance – my favorites are the covered bridge, mill and little red schoolhouse.
Christmas is a week from today, so here’s hoping your holiday prep is a wrap and you can enjoy the ambiance of the season. Me, … I’m headed out to shovel or sweep away the dusting of snow on this bitter cold morning.