Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Goose Tale

I called my grandparents oma and opa. They arrived in Northam , Western Australia as assisted passage migrants, in 1955. The history of those migrants is being documented, they helped make the fortune of WA, building the railway and working in the mining industry. Although Northam is a country town, it is a large regional center, the rail exchange is there, it’s the collection point for the sheep/wheat industry, dotted with huge silos for grain and holding yards, all waiting to be shipped out by rail. It's hot in summer, freezing in winter, a far cry from Linz. However, my family adapted and thrived.

At first the migrants all lived in the old army barracks, called The Holden Camp, which I eventually learned, meant holding camp. The Aussies drop the ‘g’ and that’s how the camp got it’s name. Nothing to do with cars! Although it did have its own road system. Long after it was torn down as a barracks and migrant holding camp, the second generation migrants (me) learned to drive on the roads which were never removed.

Eventually the migrants earned enough money to move out and buy houses. My grandparents were no exception and owned several properties. Like many families in our neighborhood they kept fowl, grew fruit trees, grape vines, almond trees, cultivated large veggie gardens. The lessons of the war were learned and they leaned towards a partial self sufficiency.

My grandparents also kept geese. Now, in the movies, when you see a flock of geese, they are usually walking in stately procession along a lovely brook or in a green meadow. In reality, geese are highly domesticated birds that like to be as close to humans as possible. They make good guard birds, announcing the arrival of visitors and strangers with loud honks. Also, in the movies, the goose girl or boy is usually attired spotlessly. Again, in reality, the entire back of their garments would be completely befouled by goose crap from constantly slipping on it and falling on their arses.

Goose crap is the WORST crap in the entire universe. It’s a sickly whitish green with horrid, darker green streaks, it is slimy and copious. It's a cross between snot and crap. Charming. Because geese like to be close it’s usually all over the backyard, right outside the door.

But that’s not their worst attribute. Geese have vile tempers. They attack for no reason and don’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘pick on some one your own size’. Many times I saw a terrified and screaming younger cousin charging up the garden path (last count, I have 23 first cousins) pursued by a shriek-honking, semi-flying, with pounding wing span of around 5 feet, bill as sharp as a razor, enraged goose. This usually ended when the poor mite would slip in goose shit and the feathered fucker would try and peck him or her to death whilst buffeting mercilessly with it's strong wings. Fortunately opa would hear the mayhem before any real damage was done, race out to the yard with a broom and beat the bird back.

We knew then, that oma’s signature dish would be on the menu that night. Uppity Goose Stew...with dumplings.

Merry Christmas and if you're having goose, enjoy. That bird probably had it coming.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I've been making some crochet snowflakes as gifts. I have many that my great-grandmother made, some before I was born. Studying the design, I've managed to reproduce and elaborate on her designs. It's been a wonderful exercise in connecting to her. She's been gone for 30 years now, yet she still has something to teach me. Enjoy the photos :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009