Mother Goose in the Giant City

As I strolled the streets of Giant City, my mind continually trailed back to the thought, “Abe Lincoln could have possibly walked through these narrow ways…” Indeed it was an idea to ponder as we hiked and explored this unique state park in southern Illinois on Saturday.

A geological wonder... wait...what's this tiny little warning sign say?

A geological wonder… wait…what’s this tiny little warning sign say?

Poisonous snakes!  Omigooseness, we won't be exploring the Fat-Man Squeeze!

Poisonous snakes! Omigooseness, we won’t be exploring the Fat-Man Squeeze!

Here's AnnaRose having heavy thoughts about the monoliths all around her.

Here’s AnnaRose having heavy thoughts about the monoliths all around her.

Ancient civilizations made their abode here, carving arrowheads out of the rocks and cooking smores in these caves.

Ancient civilizations made their abode here, carving arrowheads out of the rocks and cooking smores in these caves.

We strolled through the narrow alleys until we were nearly lost.  Oh wait, we DID get lost!

We strolled through the narrow alleys until we were nearly lost. Oh wait, we DID get lost!

This boulder has been balancing for at least 10,000 years.

This boulder has been balancing for at least 10,000 years.

The moss and ferns were so lush on one side of the street, bare rock on the other.

The moss and ferns were so lush on one side of the street, bare rock on the other.

We were shocked to see graffiti from the 1800's.  Mom always said, "Fools names and fools faces are always found in foolish places..."

We were shocked to see graffiti from the 1800’s. Mom always said, “Fools names and fools faces are always found in foolish places…”

An ideal hike for thin people like Jessi.

An ideal hike for thin people like Jessi.

These sheer stone walls, probably built by ancient aliens...

These sheer stone walls, probably built by ancient aliens…

Four of my tiny offspring.

Four of my tiny offspring.

Mother Goose always hikes with her stylish fabric sandals...

Mother Goose always hikes with her stylish fabric sandals…

Thank you gentleman Ben for helping your mother down from the big rocks!

Thank you gentleman Ben for helping your mother down from the big rocks!

Located just a few miles outside of Carbondale, Giant City State Park is 4,000 acres of rugged and beautiful terrain. Our hike only covered one mile of the great geological wonders — plan to stay all day to enjoy the full array of rocky structures. Maybe next time we’ll do a little rappelling off the Devil’s Standtable…

Wet, Wonderful, Wordless Wednesday

A small, contrived wetlands area in the middle of a suburb.

A small, contrived wetlands area in the middle of a suburb.

Will the rain flow to the Mississippi River or east to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean?

Will the rain flow to the Mississippi River or east to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean?

Proof that Mother Goose does INDEED have rubbery feet.

Proof that Mother Goose does INDEED have rubbery feet.

A Very Vernal Equinox To You

Every year on March 20, the father of Mother Goose calls her up.

“Did you get your egg to stand on end this morning?” he asks in his low, gruff voice.

According to Dad, this is the only day of the whole year when an egg will pose by itself for pictures, standing up unaided by human hands. Most years we forget to try this amazing science stunt, but this morning Mother Goose remembered! And dear AnnaRose was the skilled eggologist who was able to balance the egg on its end.

SPRING! We welcome you today!

And, dear readers, may all of your days be vernal and full of equinox, but especially today!

An egg posing with bananas and an avocado which will never stand alone on the Vernal Equinox

An egg posing with bananas and an avocado which will never stand alone even on the Vernal Equinox

The Goose and The Squirrel

Mother Goose was presumably alone in her home when she heard the loud crash upstairs. Rising from her chair, she quickly did a mental inventory of the family pets — fish in the aquarium, birds in their cages, Olivia the cat outside, Fran the dog in her daybed. Every pet was in it’s special area, and not upstairs. Then who…or what?

With all senses on red alert, Mother Goose climbed the stairs to investigate the strange noises coming from the bedroom area of the house. She could hear scrambling — the tiny scratching sound of little toenails running along the wooden floorboards. As she reached the bedroom of her sons, she was shocked to see the family globe laying on the floor. With her near-sighted eyes peeled for more evidence of the potential invader, Mother Goose slowly bent over to pick up the world and replace it on the bookshelf. A picture of one of her sailors had also been knocked off the shelf.

That’s when she saw him. At the end of the hall stood an enormous gray squirrel, and she knew by the guilty look on his furry gray face that he was the culprit. The suspicions of Mother Goose were confirmed when he turn and began running away. The squirrel knew his days as a free man were nearing an end unless he put miles between himself and this goose.

In Mother Goose, he saw a law enforcement official, a detective, a prosecuting attorney, a hanging judge and possibly even the executioner of his mortal body. He was a squirrel without a defense.

“Squirrel!” shouted Mother Goose to no one in particular. “Squirrel!”

Frantically he ran into the bedroom of Mother Goose. Leaping and lunging crazily at a closed window, he could only gasp in holy terror at the fate that had befallen him. Mother Goose closed the door to the bedroom, trapping the lice-encrusted rodent within the confines of her boudoir.

The squirrel turned to face Mother Goose.

“Squirrel!” she shouted once again. And then she realized that she also was trapped within the confines of her boudoir with a wild squirrel. She quickly exited.

Regaining her sense of mastery over the situation, Mother Goose ran down the stairs to find her broom. She also opened the front door of the house in case the squirrel should require an exit from the scene of the crime. She stopped for a moment to look at her dog who was resting on her daybed with a curious look on her face. “Squirrel!” Mother Goose shouted again. Fran looked interested, but not enough to get up and help Mother Goose. She was certainly not motivated enough to climb the stairs and assist the goose.

For her part, Mother Goose was giving the squirrel ample opportunity to resist arrest and escape with his life and lice intact.

For his part, the squirrel was doing his best to comply with the wishes of Mother Goose.

Returning to the boudoir with her broomstick in hand and courage sufficiently summoned, Mother Goose rapidly scanned the floor, the corners of the room, under the dressers and the bed and even peeked cautiously into the closet.

No sign of Mr. Squirrel.

Then Mother Goose noticed the open window near her bed. She breathed a loud sigh of relief. He had apparently found his own escape route and executed his plan perfectly, leaving no trace of himself behind.

Returning to her kitchen chair by the window, Mother Goose watched the leaves fall and allowed her heart rate to return to normal. The back door was open, and she suddenly heard the rasping voice of a squirrel in the willow tree. She peered out the door and up into the tree, ever cautious as a goose can be. There he was way up high on the branch. The squirrel was scolding her! He was saying, “You may have won this battle, Mother Goose, but I will still win the war! I shall return!”

“I’m watching you, Mother Goose.”

Goose-like Serenity in the Japanese Garden

The designers and builders of the Columbia Exposition of 1893 in Chicago had some disagreements along the way. Passionate mastermind of the fair, Daniel Burnham, worked closely with several architects to create a brilliant celebration of culture and invention. The chief landscape designer for the fair, Frederick Law Olmsted, had his own vision for the “Wooded Island” — he wanted to keep the area undeveloped. Others were of another mind and wanted to put something out there besides trees and flowers. Eventually they reached a compromise with the inclusion of a Japanese-styled garden.

One hundred and nineteen years have passed since the World Columbian Exposition, and the Japanese Garden is not quite the same as it was back then, but oh my gooseness, we found such peace and serenity there. Please come with us on a tour of the Osaka Garden!

There is a very good description of the history of the Japanese garden here, and also here’s an old photo from the fair.

The Japanese Hoo-den and tea house from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893. Mother Goose was not there…

It’s a quiet place in the midst of a big noisy city…

Waterfalls are an essential ingredient to a garden. Mother Goose dipped her rubbery feet in the cool, refreshing water.

Reflecting pools and rocks are also very calming.

A lovely and peaceful view. The young lady in blue was celebrating her Quinceañera with friends and photographers.

Mother Goose touches history! An original lantern from the 1893 Japanese Pavilion.

Mother Goose can only imagine the wonder on the faces of the people who visited this place so long ago. I was very surprised that they have renovated this area into such a serene place — this restoration is unique in our area, and Mother Goose will certainly return to meditate on the secrets of the universe.

We wandered through the rest of the island remarking on the great variety of birds and butterflies around us. Then we realized that we were actually in a delightful bird and butterfly refuge! Imagine our surprise and merriment!

A Monarch Butterfly.

A smallish butterfly.

Were we thrilled at the colony of birds living in this old snag of a furry tree? YES!

And then Mother Goose and Husband Goose went searching for an elusive statue… Please come back tomorrow for the next event in our White City adventure!

Meanwhile, Back in Spring Green

When we last heard from Mother Goose on vacation “up north” she was sleeping through Broadway-worthy production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Husband Goose carried her back to The Silver Star Inn, bed and breakfast, where they were residing for the weekend.

The unique Silver Star Inn and gardens

Our very private deck at The Silver Star. “What happens on the deck, stays on the deck…”

I can’t say enough about The Silver Star — it’s a lovely lodge in the middle of nowhere, decorated with thousands of photographic equipment, historical pieces and artwork. Proprietor Jean is the queen of breakfast food! And the hummingbirds buzz around your head whilst you consume vast quantities of coffee and French toast, peach sauce and sweet cheese cream on the front deck.

Our new friends, Jeff and Tracy, were persistent in their efforts to capture hummingbirds in their camera. It took 237 shots, but this one is PERFECT!

Only the friendliest people stay at The Silver Star so we were guaranteed to make great connections.

Husband Goose making a connection in Arena, Wisconsin. Yes, Arena.

The Gooses get very excited about bird watching. Besides the hummingbirds, we sighted a number of other birds, including a Scarlet Tanager. Perhaps you can spot the bright red bird in this photo…

Mother Goose nearly fell out of the car trying to capture this photo — obviously her first Scarlet Tanager…

You won’t want to miss the next chapter of our Spring Green story when we take yet another Frank Lloyd Wright tour…

Stay cool, drink lotsa water and be blessed today. Love, Mother Goose

Mother Goose Pets a Stingray

You’d almost think they be servin’ up some tropical drinks…

Mother Goose had one of the most unique experiences of her life yesterday with her family at the Brookfield Zoo. The courageous keepers of sea creatures at the zoo have amazingly set up a temporary exhibit called Stingray Bay — a place to pet stingrays. Yes, believe it or not, petting the animals is not only allowed, it is encouraged. The sweet and happy rays there actually like to have their backs stroked gently as they glide around their 16,000 gallon swimming pool.

Naturally, at first we were hesitant to enter into this strange and unknown experience. Ever suspicious — certainly this must be some sort of a hoax, we all thought simultaneously and at once. But at the ridiculously inexpensive cost of $2.00 per person, in the long run, we just couldn’t resist. Our noses delightfully followed the salty scent of sea water, and suddenly there we were in the remarkable presence of fifty Cow-nosed Rays.

They were actually smiling as they swam around their sea-shelled tank.

All around the pool, children and adults alike had their arms dipped into the ocean water up to their shoulders, all laughter and wonderment on their faces as they caressed the incredible rays swimming merrily under the water. The rays are very sensitive around their wings and tails and mouths, so petting their backs is the best way to connect with them. Now and then, one would half leap out of the water, and we knew some human person had petted them inappropriately…

They felt very soft and slightly slippery, but not slimy. Their wings silently flap up and down — so much like birds flying underwater. Their tails had been slightly trimmed; presumably to protect us visitors. None of us wanted a Steve Irwin experience… I suspect these rays were not nearly as dangerous as other types of rays. Plus, they WERE smiling as they swam along.

Omigooseness, if you EVER see a place that allows petting of stingrays, you simply MUST experience it first hand — my simple words cannot convey the joy of connecting with a real sea creature like this!

This was one of the happiest times of Jessi’s life…

Three Birds with One Stone

Mother Goose was born for multi-tasking. Like most mothers, I have an innate desire and ability to accomplish more when there is more on the table to accomplish. Something just clicks inside my brain — perhaps in yours as well — when we discover a way to successfully manage objectives simultaneously. Ohmygooseness, I just get goosebumps when I think of the possibilities!

Last Friday was one of those deliciously satisfying multi-tasking days.

We live just four miles from one of Chicago’s most beautiful treasures, the Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s a gorgeous place — one of the oldest and largest conservatories in the world. I can barely contain myself in describing the wonder of hundred-year old trees and plants all under a glass roof.

However, the conservatory is surrounded by some pretty dicey neighborhoods. Many old geese are actually afraid to drive their cars through these neighborhoods in broad daylight. But you know Mother Goose — always ready for an adventure! So I grabbed my Kindle, my phone, and a bottle of water; I jumped on my bike and sailed down the street.

It was slightly overcast as I pedaled along the streets, past boarded up stores and grated windows and doors. I smiled at everybody who looked up from their business to see a goose riding a bike. Of all the wonders of the day, I’m sure I got more stares than anyone else in those neighborhoods. I waved my wings at the gangsters making their deals on the street corners, and they waved their handguns at me.

In no time at all and with no problems whatsoever, I arrived at my destination and grinned at my own audacity and faith to do this adventure without telling anyone where I was going. Maybe I was a goose on the lam, as they say…but that is neither here nor there. Time to relax and explore the beautiful environments of the conservatory.

Only four miles from home!

As I walked into the Palm House, I smiled. There was a young lady at the Curiosity Cart, and she offered to tell me about where chocolate comes from. She had actual cacao beans and nibs and plenty of information for me. Sadly, she did not offer to give me any of her beans or nibs, so I stuck my beak in the air and walked away.

Strolling along under the fifty foot tall palm trees from around the world, my skinny goose legs began to protest all the exercise. I found a lovely quiet corner to sit for awhile and read my book. I’m blazing my way through The Hunger Games series, and couldn’t wait to see what would happen to Katniss next.

Photo courtesy of The Garfield Park Conservatory

Just as I was getting to the good part in my book, along came a group of teenagers on a field trip. I had already observed a very quiet group of preschoolers passing silently by the palm trees, but this gaggle of teens was not very quiet, nor very polite. They questioned the relevance of a goose sitting under a palm tree reading a Kindle. Imagine! I shot them a look of consternation as I packed up my bags to waddle along to another private place. A goose needs privacy most of all when she is reading her Kindle.

I thoroughly enjoyed the desert room with all of its cacti and succulents, and I might have plopped down next to the agave, but again, the field trip crowd was quite distracting. The kids were adorable to Mother Goose, but their teacher was very sharp-tongued, and Mother Goose wanted to push her into a corner to feel a few of the natural barbs.

A perfect place to dump a crabby teacher…

A century plant!

Little flowering cuties…

Instead, I headed out into the great outdoors to observe the gardens. I found a sign with an arrow — it said “This way to the Garfield Goats.” Intrigued, I followed the arrow, and it did indeed lead to the goat pen, but not a goat was in sight. Hmmmph… I did find some boxes of bees, and that was very interesting. Mother Goose is not afraid of bees in the least. And they posed for my camera.

Busy as a bee.

I truly love bees.

The air was sweet and lush from the green grass and flowers — I could see waves of humidity rising in the sunshine. Such a blessing to have this verdant oasis in the middle of Chicago’s concrete and asphalt.

You can see the Willis Tower peeking over the shoulder of the Conservatory. The Willis Tower used to be called the Sears Tower. And we call it the Serious Tower.

Back inside I found that the Fern Room had been reopened — the Conservatory suffered much damage last summer from a horrible hail storm, and the broken glass had fallen most severely in the beautiful Fern Room. Mother Goose loves the Fern Room! I especially love the waterfalls and the koi ponds. I found another quiet bench to park my backside, and once again pulled out The Hunger Games. There’s something so relaxing and peaceful about the sound of water falling — I was immediately transported into my wonderfully fictitious story. Don’t you just love getting lost in a storybook?

The gentle, musical sound of water tinkling down the rocks…ahhh…

Too soon, too soon it was time to leave. As I unlocked my bike, I promised myself and the Conservatory that I’d be back sooner rather than later. Peddling home, I was radiant and all the pedestrians I met on my way couldn’t help but notice. A glowing goose on a bicycle — a sight for sore eyes. Many kind people greeted me along the way, saying “Hey beautiful!” and “Way to go, Mother Goose!” and “Lovely day for a ride!”

I accomplished much in those few short hours. My fresh air and exercise are very important to a goose. Getting away to rest and relax with a good book is vital to my imagination. Admiring the ferns, palms and cacti, I was reminded of what a big beautiful world we live in. My corner of the world is quite small, but on my bike, I can go places other people can only dream of seeing.

You know how I feel about clematis…

Mother Goose is truly blessed. Incidentally, I would never throw rocks at birds — that was just a catchy title to my story. 🙂

Abundantly and Remarkably Weedy

In honor of Earth Day, Mother Goose will now pause to consider the weeds.

We’ve been told by the Lord to consider the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, but just for now, let us consider the weeds. I believe there were no weeds in the Garden of Eden — they were a result of man’s sin and the resulting curse that God placed on the earth. And so technically, we cannot call these weeds a species indigenous to our planet — I propose that they have come from “somewhere else”, possibly hell.

I have indeed been to my front garden these past few days, attempting to rid our sweetly cultivated space of the invasive and fluffy plant latinly named Taraxacum officinale. I’ve included a very scientific illustration in case you are unfamiliar with this particular flora. And if you are unfamiliar with taraxacum, please leave Mother Goose a comment describing exactly where on Earth you live…

No caption necessary...

My weeding procedure is not very remarkable. I simply insert the blade of my gardening tool into the rain-softened soil approximately 1/2″ from the base of the dandelion. Gathering my wits about me and all my strength, I push down at a 45-degree angle until my tiny trowel is sunk to a level of two or three inches. Then I give a quick snap and twist of the wrist until I hear that satisfying “pop” which proves that the root of the disparaging plant has been severed.

With my left wing, I grab the top of the plant and shake it to release the ball of dirt clinging to the root. We must never waste any soil. Mother Goose believes that all of Mother Earth should be returned immediately to the garden from whence it came.

Mother Goose spots small creatures who have been unearthed in her frenzied unweeding — earthworms and ball bugs (which have been renamed Roly Polies by the children of this generation. Every generation has its buggy monikers, and this one is no different…).

However, in the energetic and agitating process of removing precious soil from the root ball, Mother Goose has discovered an unforeseen and acutely exasperating problem…

Each and every individual fluff that flew off the stem of innumerable taraxacum found its way unforgivably into the far-flung beak of Mother Goose. For endless hours on my bony knees, with small spatulated spade in my right hand, I fought the flying fuzzies off with my left hand.

Alas, the battle was lost. Though I easily filled my large yellow plastic containers with quickly wilting leaves and stems and roots of taraxacum, the millions upon millions of floating seed parachutes were not contained, but indeed have simply and unfortunately dispersed. Though my garden may appear weed-free today, I know that in a week or maybe two, the germination process will have begun anew. And Mother Goose will return to the scene of the crime spree with gardening tools in hand and surgical mask in place.

A special note: children find the puffballs of taraxacum irresistible. In regard to the fluffy, they have no self-control. Children will automatically grab them and puff them with all their might. How does Mother Goose respond to this bizarre childlike behavior?

Honnnk! Honnnnkk!

Blessings on your Earth Day!

If You Are Looking for Mother Goose …

She’s out in the garden, pulling weeds, listening to the cardinals whistle and telling stories to the earthworms.

Cardinalis cardinalis

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