A follower asked me the other day if I was always in a bad mood. The answer is, only when I see people do what I call stupid things. That being said I have observed that this has been a weird spring. This week it has been cool with an almost cold wind which most day made being outside uncomfortable.Even the Dandelions are having a tough time this week.
I was reading a new book, for me anyway, today, The last novel written by Charles Major published 7 years after he died. I am always on the look out for the last book I need to complete my collection of his 11 novels. However, while resting my eyes I watched a goose take a running “swan” dive into the pond and do a flip under water and come up appearing to be totally refreshed. As the goose preened his feathers I remembered a story I’d written last winter on a cold and sunny day, about 40 degrees colder than today, inspired by the geese and ducks bathing and preening in the cold water. I hope you enjoy.
Billy and the Bath
Billy is a sad 5 years old today. He has a cold and had to stay home from school (kindergarten). Colds are boring. Mom says it is too cold to play outside especially with a cold. He knew it was cold because there was ice on the pond behind the house and mom also said that with the wind blowing it was almost zero!
He could tell just by looking at the surface of the half frozen over pond. He shivered. But, the sun was shining and the glimmer of the pond gave hope that it might warm up enough to go out. As he looked out the window with despair he noticed the geese, at least 200 of them, on the other bank of the pond sunning themselves and some even swimming on the unfrozen part of the pond. He remembers seeing them earlier when they flew in and some even tried to skate on the frozen part of the pond.
He watched in amazement as some of the geese were diving in the cold water. Some even going completely under and staying for a while it seemed. Billy could not understand how they could be getting wet when it was so very cold. It was almost like they were bathing.
Billy did not like baths. Billy really did not like baths. Billy did not like baths so much that he sometimes tried to hide from his Mom and Dad when they said, “Bath time”.
Billy ran to his mother and asked how could the geese be getting wet on such a cold day and seemed to enjoy it? She was busy cleaning the kitchen after her world famous pancake breakfast that Billy had enjoyed so much. But, she said, “Let’s go Google it”. And off they went to the computer. What did Google say?
Geese along with many other birds need/must preen their feathers every day to stay healthy, warm, and dry, especially if they spend a lot of time on the water. The bathing helps to remove the dirt and parasites and the preening resets the feather barbs. Most birds, especially water birds like geese coat their feathers with protective oil, as a water proofing, they get from their Uropygial gland. Besides the need for cleaning and preening to stay healthy the geese seemed to really enjoy taking a bath.
Wow thought Billy, so many new words. What do they mean he ask his Mom. “Well”, she said,” maybe you should learn about the dictionary”. Dictionary! Another new word to learn. So Billy’s Mom got the large red book from the book case and sat down with him and she started to show him how the “book of words” Dictionary works. Billy was amazed at all the words in the book, words and words that he had never heard or seen. His Mom showed him how to read the definitions (another new word) of the new words. She told him that as her grew older the dictionary would become a real friend as he learned to read harder and harder books. They looked up the words they had read about the geese on Google and this is what they learned.
“Barb” a sharp point sticking out backwards like a fish hook.
“Parasites” an animal that lives on another animal, usually with harmful effects.
“Preening” to clean and trim (the feathers) with the beak.
“Protective” to cover or shield from danger or harm.
“Uropygial Gland” or also called the preen gland or oil gland that produces an oily substance that the birds , using their beaks, coat their feathers to protect them from water and parasites.
They also learned from Google that some birds do not have “oil glands” and the clean their feathers by taking dust baths.
How lucky could you get!
But, Billy learned that taking baths was important for birds to stay not only clean but healthy. Maybe he thought that is why Mom and Dan want him to take so many baths. So the rest of the day was spent what any other 5 year old would do. Play and explore and the dreaded nap. It was soon time for Dad to come home. He is a police man and he work very hard protecting us from the bad guys.
They sat down for supper and after Dad said the blessing for all the wonderful thing in our lives they began to eat Billy’s favorite, Mac and cheese. While they ate Mom and Dad talked about their day and what they had done and who they had seen and talked to. Finally it was time for the question that all Dads ask their kids every day. “Billy what did you learn today?” he ask with a smile.
Well, I learned lots today! Did you know that geese take baths and they clean and preen each of their feathers and oil them to get rid of parasites and water proof them. And you know what else they really seem to enjoy taking a bath! I also learned about a special book. It’s a book of words call a dic- dict- dictionary. Mom showed me how it tell all about words I’ve never heard of. Dad was greatly impressed as Billy continued to tell of the day’s events.
Soon supper was over and they family settled down for the evening. Before long the dreaded announcement came. Bath time! Billy sat there watching TV and reluctantly stood up to start the dreaded march to the bathroom. Mom was running the water and Billy thought as he undressed that he was sure glad he was not a goose. Imagine getting into that cold pond! Gee, I sure am luck to be a boy!
Into the warm water he went and started to soap up and wash his face and body. He was sure lucky he did not have to preen his feathers and look for parasites. How much fun would that be? Maybe taking a bath was not so bad after all. It sure does make you feel better!
Pajamas on and kisses goodnight he said his prayers and crawled into the nice warm bed. As he nodded to sleep he thought, it is really nice not to be a goose!