Discoveries on a Christmas Day Walk

The sun was shining in Asheville. It was warm for Christmas Day and we’d just finished baking cookies. It was time for a walk with my two granddaughters.

We went down to Beaver Lake Bird Sanctuary and started on the boardwalk. Isa, the four-year old, was holding a whistle.

“Not a great idea in a bird sanctuary,” I said. “You’ll scare the birds.” But instead of blowing full-force like she’s been doing in the living room, she just “whispered” through the whistle. It sounded like a bird call and actually attracted some songbird.

At the overlook, we saw a coot and a duck in the lake. “A ruddy duck,” said a voice behind us. We didn’t know who the guy was but he was holding a pair of expensive binoculars. Vin, the serious birder, also led us to a screech owl that had parked itself in a birdhouse. The bird was half out of the birdhouse because it was really too big for it but it wasn’t moving.

A woman with equally serious binoculars came up to us.

“Santa Claus was good to us. There’s a Ross goose across the street in the pond.” Vin was impressed. “It’s very rare around here,” he said.

Rare? I called Lenny and told him of our find. Unlike songbirds, a goose by the lake is unlikely to fly away immediately.

We met up and walked by the pond at the golf course. It was easy to distinguish the one Ross goose, small and white, from the many Canada geese around the water. The Ross goose had insinuated itself into the gaggle of Canada geese. Hannah took my camera and shot lots of photos, including the picture above. Not a great picture but pretty good with my point and shoot.

Bird in hand, I continued my walk, this time without kids and discovered a Little Free Library box in our neighborhood.

As if there aren’t enough free books in public libraries, this latest movement encourages residents to set up a box on their property and fill it with about a dozen books.

The idea is that you’ll be walking along and feel a need for a book. Then you take a book and then return with another book.

This was a high-class book box. No romance or Readers Digest in this offering. Only the kind of books reviewed on NPR. I took Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, a bestseller, which sounded like a fun novel. Now I have to put in a book on my next walk.

The rest of the day was not as highbrow. At dusk, we all piled in the car and went to the light show at the WNC Agricultural Center. You drive through a set of lights, flashing to music. Hannah kept saying that it was fantastic. Isa was quiet and mesmerized.

Even Lenny said that “it was amazing.” It was a merry Christmas, indeed.

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