THE SNOW GOOSE – Marilyn Armstrong

Snow Goose — Peterson: Field Guide to Birds

White with black primaries. Often rust-stained from feeding in muddy or iron-rich waters.


She checked “snow goose” from her “life list” of viewed birds. It was among the last of the remaining ones. She stood in the marsh, up to her shins in the same brown mud that had stained the lower feathers of her snow goose. She wondered if the world would last long enough for her to make the rest of her life list birds … or even if the birds would last long enough for her to put that check mark there.

She packed up her gear. Put away her glasses, her camera, and her book. It was a newer book because the birds had moved around. Many were gone, others no longer migrated or lived only in very small areas and distant from her.

And then, she walked back to her car. She had found her snow goose. As for the rest? It was all far too big for her … a world-class problem. Meanwhile, it was a very long drive back to civilization.


 NOTES ABOUT THE PICTURE:

The big male goose (there was another one, the slightly smaller female who was taking on other geese in another part of the lake (these birds mate for life as do geese) was attacking the geese who had taken their nest on the little island.

You won’t see geese and swans sharing a lake. Or, for that matter, herons who are equally possessive about”their” space. The geese were trying to move in and had stolen the swan’s nest They probably had eaten the eggs by then, too. That’s what big birds do to stop the encroachment of other large birds.

The swan in the pond

Geese and swan do NOT get along at all. It’s a kill or be-killed thing going on. A pity for us, because the lake is more than big enough for both, but they will not share it and the herons have the river and don’t come to the lake.

Ducks are every bird’s pal, oddly enough — but geese, swans, and herons are enemies. That had been a swan’s nest, We had watched them build it. There were no cygnets that year.

I couldn’t see what was going on, but I knew something was. It was on the other side of the lake. All I could see was white feathers and something happening, but the battle had underway for hours. Both swans had been patrolling, but the geese kept popping up.

Canada Geese are much faster than mute swans and surprisingly strong for their weight, but a full-grown Swan is MUCH bigger and stronger. They can’t take off and fly as the geese do — they are too heavy and need a lot of runway to get into the air, which is why they walk around lakes while the geese fly. So give it to the geese for mobility, but for sheer strength, swans have it.

Together forever, swans mate for life

The swans won ultimately.

As for me, I set the camera on “all the way out” and shot. I didn’t know what I had until I put the pictures in the computer. My eyes don’t do that well. The far side of the lake is too far for my eyes even with my “long distance” glasses on, but the lens got it.

We think only people fight, but animals have their lines drawn too.

TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS by CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE – Marilyn Armstrong

By Clement Clarke Moore


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads.

1864

1864

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap —
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

1883

1883

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

1886

1886

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
“On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
“Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

1896

1896

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys — and St. Nicholas too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just opening his pack.

1898

1898

His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laugh’d when I saw him in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the stockings; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

1901

1901

He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight —
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


A quick note:

Back when newspapers were getting read by normal people, every year The Boston Herald printed this poem on its front page. The Herald was disbanded this year, a very sad day for Boston now reduced to just one newspaper, so I have undertaken to print the poem myself.

The pictures are originals of the book’s covers through the years. Sometimes called “The Night Before Christmas” and other times called “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and periodically both, the covers show this variation.

Most people know it by both titles anyway. I used to know it by heart.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM OUR CHRISTMAS CACTUS – Marilyn Armstrong

Christmas Cactus at Christmas

It has continued to bloom and now, the second (pink) cactus has set buds too. I don’t think it will bloom before the holidays, but maybe by New Year’s. It’s hard to tell. The buds are fat but don’t look ready to pop.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas from our Christmas cactus to yours — or you — depending!

A SQUIRREL’S INTRIGUE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Intrigue

It’s not as complicated with this squirrel as it was with Moose and Squirrel. They had opponents, Boris and Natasha. This squirrel’s only concern is whether the birds are going to attack him if he sits down and has some brunch in the flat feeder.

I’m thinking. Where are Boris and Natasha when I need them?

I think I need an agent!

He’s been in and out of it all morning, but the little flock birds, especially the warblers, are getting a bit aggressive about a big furry guy plunked in the feeder and they dive bomb him as he munches. But Owen refilled the feeder this morning, so there’s plenty for everyone. They only seem to get possessive when the quantity drops kind of low … which take 3 days, by the way. These birds are very good eaters.

Pssst, birds. I’m hungry too!

I can smell the corn and the sunflower seeds! I’m gonna make a run for it!

He eventually made his way into the feeder where he stayed quite a while, but these were taken while he sat in the oak tree trying to make up his mind: to feed or not to feed? THAT is the question!

CHRISTMAS QUESTIONS – Marilyn Armstrong

A Few Christmas Questions


From:  MELANIE B CEE


Feel free to answer the questions and tag 3 bloggers to do the same if you are a person who tags. Personally, I’m not a tagger. It makes me very uncomfortable. Free will and all that, so if you want to answer the questions, please do. Also, a teeny tiny request: “It’s a Wonderful Life” is one of my favorite movies, so try to avoid telling me how much you hated it, okay? 
Which is a famous Christmas Ballet?

The Nutcracker, of course. And how many times have I seen it!

Which country first sent Christmas Cards?

England. It was Charles Dickens who got it rolling. He really made Christmas “big.”

Pigs in blankets are what?

Cocktail wieners. Not a personal favorite.

Between 1647 – 1660 who banned Christmas in England?

Probably the Roundheads (Puritans). They banned anything that might be considered fun.

How many candles are there in a traditional Advent Wreath?

No idea.

In “It’s A Wonderful Life,” what is the name of George’s guardian angel?

Clarence, but he didn’t have his wings yet. And he loved Mark Twain.

Bill & Hilary Clinton switched on the Christmas tree lights in Belfast in 1990, 1995 or 1996?

I don’t know. Actually, I didn’t know they did it at all.

What is the birthstone color of someone born on Christmas day?

Blue. There are four of them, but turquoise is my favorite.

Which English actor starred in “The Muppet Christmas Carol”?

Michael Caine?

What Dr. Seuss character steals Christmas?

Surely the Grinch. He’s still stealing it. Forever and ever. He never learns.