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More Stories - The Way We Were
Flowers & Geese
In the story about Aunt Amelia, Left on the Shelf, I showed a picture of her with a "duck". Now I knew better than that. Memory fails at times. That is a goose! (I've corrected it now.) I'd heard the tale often enough that I should have remembered.My mother, Alice Hine, had gone to live with her Aunt Amelia on the Newfield farm later owned and worked by her brother, Robert Hine and his wife Jeanette.
One day when Mom and Auntamee went out into the yard, there was a little ball of yellow fluff - a very young baby goose. No geese were nesting nearby, and the closest neighbors that raised them, the Van Ettens, were maybe 5 miles through forest and hills as the crow flies; and much, much further otherwise.
The only explanation they could some up with was that some predatory bird had snatched up the gosling, then either been attacked or seen something better and dropped it. It was uninjured, which seemed even odder.
Mother doesn't remember where they kept it at first but it was surely behind the kitchen range, where especially-privileged cats had their kittens or dogs their pups, and where orphaned or abandoned lambs and other small livestock were kept and raised in warmth and safety. In any case, the goose grew and grew, and naturally thought that Mom and Auntamee were its parents. It followed them all over the farm and was an amusing and treasured pet for years.
Uncle Bob retired and sold his farm some years back, but bought a piece on land on the edge of it and had a prefab built. He gardened extensively, and sent me "bragging photos". He wrote me a email although he prefered to write by hand (says it's "hunt and peck with a lot more hunting than pecking"):
Uncle Bob always did grow the best corn, and as I recall won prizes for it at the State Fair. I remember Grandpa once bringing in an ear of Uncle Bob's field corn and bragging on it; it was the longest, fullest ear I've ever seen. His mother and my own mom all had tremendous green thumbs, while mine is more "mint" colored. I'm good on trees and herbs, though!
How well I remember my mother's asters, daffodils, jonquils, hollyhocks, zinnias, columbine... and Grandma Hine's roses, tiger lilies, Easter lilies, pansies, petunias, gloxinias and African violets.... and so much more! We have one of the largest "gardens" in the neighborhood, but I go more for sturdier flowers and foliage, hibiscus, bananas, papyrus, coleus and other things that can take some inattention and mistreatment. Once I got a package of hybrid zinnia seeds that grew like nothing I had ever seen before, big fluffy heads in various bright colors. They were planted on the walkway back to my office; I had little faith they would even come up, let alone turn into such a wonder. And they were the wonder of the neighborhood - until little by little they were all stolen. Aye, Miami!!!!
While my gardens are nothing to compare to theirs, it's a heritage I remember well. Sometimes when insomnia hits I can take my mind visiting gardens filled with all that beauty of my youth.
Here's some of my late Uncle Bob's results (click on any picture to enlarge):
Wish I could do that! Somebody's a great photographer, too.