Swings, smoothies and geese

June 25, 2010 | My Jottings

Last week I took my Maryland grandchildren, whom I will no longer be referring to as Maryland grandchildren because they’re now Minnesota grandchildren, just as all our other grandchildren are Minnesota grandchildren, on an outing.

First, I took them to the park. We live in a city that has an unbelievable 129 parks and/or playgrounds, and the one we visited isn’t the prettiest, woodsiest one, but it has been recently redone, so we went to check it out. All the playground equipment was shiny and new, and because this park’s new grand opening had been well-publicized, and also perhaps because this park is near the shore of Lake Superior, there were lots of people that day.

The thing I noticed right away was that there was no sand or dirt at this park. I’m a firm believer in living life as much as possible without letting sand or dirt interfere with your business, so I was impressed with the tiny bits of rubber tire pieces that were used all around the playground equipment.

It was spongy to walk on and would certainly provide much more cushion to a child who accidentally fell from a swing. The rain could wash the tire bits clean, local cats wouldn’t be as apt to make it their own…it got my vote for a good playground choice.

I thought I would be able to take Mr. McBoy, Mrs. Nisky and Little Gleegirl to the park, sit down with my Kindle and enjoy a few pages of Lisa See’s On Gold Mountain, while keeping my eye on how they were doing, but no. It was crowded enough that I felt like I’d suddenly turned into a grandmother owl as I tried to watch where each child was at all times.

I looked quickly to the left for the tall blond boy with the navy and red striped shirt – okay he’s on the monkey bars – where’s Little Gleegirl? – oh my gosh I don’t see her how did she get away so quickly? – oh thank God she’s over there coming out of that slide in the purple knit dress, now where’s Mrs. Nisky? – oh dear oh dear she’s climbing too high on that contraption with the steps and the rings and she seems a little scared – remember to look for the brown sundress with the pink flowers – “Watch your step Mrs. Nisky and hang on!” – and where is that purple dress now – oh maybe I shouldn’t have let her go over to that area by herself there are so many big kids over there – where is she I can’t see her oh dear Lord oh thank God there she is by the swings…

And so on. An owl, with my head revolving every which way at all times, keeping my eyes on those three grands in the midst of the noisy crowd of kids.

Here’s a photo of Little Gleegirl swinging (all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them):

And again on a different kind of swing:

And here’s soon-to-be-six Mrs. Nisky on a steel ring contraption you stand on and gasp and giggle while your grandma spins you around until you can hardly hang on anymore:

And this – an unusual, fairly high slide with no sides, so that going down requires that a tall adult reach up to hold your hand and run beside you while you’re whooshing down the curves:

After assisting in slide usage I realized I hadn’t seen Mr. McBoy in at least forty-six seconds and started to panic. I utilized my owl neck-and-head turning powers and thankfully saw him on a swing on the other side of the park:

I went over and pushed him for a while and by this time everyone was getting a little hot and thirsty. Our average summer temperature in this city is 74 degrees, but it was just over 80 on this day and a bit humid. So we trekked back to the parking lot where we had paid FIVE DOLLARS to park, and headed to Dunn Brothers, where they make wonderful smoothies.

We drove through and gave our order: four small strawberry smoothies, three with whipped cream on top, one without. Little Gleegirl wanted hers plain. They were so refreshing. We sipped on those while driving to a beautiful wooded cemetery in our city, the one where Michael and I will be buried, as a matter of fact. It has a couple of big ponds with many different kinds of ducks and geese, and one Great Blue Heron that I know of.

We had a package of hot dog buns, a package of hamburger buns, and one large loaf of bread with us. As soon as we drove to the back of the largest pond and parked under some trees, every feathered creature within a quarter mile radius stopped its leisurely swimming or waddling and looked up, peering at us intently. Then, as if on cue, they all ran as one to the car and surrounded us, quietly quacking and honking, and waiting for us to feed them. I decided not to get out since Little Gleegirl is three and probably wouldn’t want to learn yet how to fend off aggressive hissing geese. So instead we opened all our windows and from each of our four seats in the car we leisurely tore our stale and crumbly offerings into small pieces and gave the birds some lunch.

Sitting there in the shade with the breeze blowing through, we had the best time. All the kids immediately saw that there were greedy seagulls lurking and darting in front of the other birds (sky rats, Michael calls them), and they didn’t really want to feed them so much. They tried to aim their chunks of bread toward the many baby ducks and geese instead.

Here is Mr. McBoy watching as some Canada geese and their babies hang around, hoping for something to eat:

And the two girls watching the birds approach the car:

On my side, there were some very intense looking blue-eyed geese actually pecking the door, wanting me to feed them:

It would be hard to have a good, relaxed conversation with someone who looked at you like that when you were talking.

I preferred the little babies, who were actually close to moving out of their baby stage but who received the bulk of my bread, because they hadn’t learned to dash in for it themselves yet:

And here are some Canada goose goslings, clearly growing out of their little baby stage and closer to adulthood:

When I mentioned to the kids that these were goslings that were close to adulthood, eight year-old Mr. McBoy nodded and remarked knowledgeably: “Yes. They’re teenager geese.” And that’s exactly what they look like, don’t they?

We doled out the breadstuffs slowly so the enjoyment of the day would last longer, but after we were out of bread we headed home. The three children all leaned out of the car to say their goodbyes, and I got this shot of Mr. McBoy’s smile in the sideview mirror:

He looks like his daddy here, painted with his mama’s palette.

As we wound slowly around the roads in the cemetery, Mrs. Nisky asked from the back seat about the ancient looking headstones, “What do all of those say?” I told her they had the names of the people buried there, and the dates they were born and the dates they had died. I told her that someday Grandpa and Grandma would be buried here, and that our names would be put on stones above our graves too. After a few seconds in which she was obviously deep in thought, Mrs. Nisky asked, “And what date are you and Grandpa going to die on?”

I lightheartedly told her that only God knows when we will die, that He numbers our days and knows when the right time is for our lives here to end, and our lives in heaven to begin. And that hopefully it wouldn’t be for a long time. I thought to myself, I want to see teenager grandchildren, not just teenager geese.

That seemed to satisfy her and as we were driving out of the cemetery, three year-old Little Gleegirl piped up from her place in the backseat, “This has been a good day!”

I wholeheartedly agreed.

Take three wonderful grandchildren. Add swings, smoothies and geese. It’s really a delightful combination.


  1. Sharon says:

    What a fun day. 🙂

    I laughed at the part about, “It would be hard to have a good, relaxed conversation with someone who looked at you like that when you were talking.”

    Indeed. Those are some wild-eyed geese!

  2. Christy says:

    I have many pictures of birthday parties at Devore park in the San Bernadino mountains and children running wildly to get away from the very mean looking geese. My own goose bit me on the calf of my leg and left a perfect “beak print….upper and lower” bruise. This is significant as the bite went through my heavy jeans. But I love geese…..I know people like them…..they look pretty but aren’t very nice.

  3. Tauni says:

    I can so imagine your head darting to and fro trying to keep track of your little ones! I have had to do the same thing with my three (Ben’s cousins). What a wonderful day you had, I wish I had been there. Maybe you could teach the kids to make funny faces back at the geese and maybe they would not look so wild-eyed! Thank you for sharing about your play date with your no longer Maryland and now Minnesota grandchildren!

    Give them all hugs from me! I am looking forward to my next visit and hangin’ out at the park too!

  4. Just Julie says:

    Tauni, wouldn’t it be wonderful to plan a once-a-year visit together? Maybe next time you and Curt could both come!

  5. Ember says:


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