I don’t know how many of you know that some people call my husband a genius. I usually call him Burl, sometimes, honey or sweetheart! Recently, I read that geniuses are eccentric. I thought, well, he’s not
eccentric so maybe he isn’t a genius? Then the other day, he asked me something rather strange. “Shirl, he said, “maybe we should get a goose instead of a dog.” Actually, I knew he was okay, because I knew why he said what he did.
We recently spent the weekend at Nelis’ Dutch Village in Holland, Michigan. I would recommend the park to everyone. It is like a step back into the Netherlands of 100 years ago. Because my husband is of dutch descent, we have visited the old country, Holland, and looked for the Updyke name
in old records there. It was rather interesting to find my maiden name, Britt, more often than Updyke. Of course, the old spelling of his name is Op Dyck. My parents used to say, “We’re Pennsylvania Dutch.” I think it was because of World War II that they didn’t say. “We are of German descent.” Later, though, I learned that the Pennsylvania Dutch were immigrants from Southwestern Germany and Switzerland. They are known for the founding of Germantown, PA.
At one time, one-third of Pennsylvania’s population spoke Dutch. Words we use today, like cookie, cole slaw, dock, stoop, and yacht, show the impact the Dutch had on the local dialect.
Back at the village, I loved the towering 25 bell carillon that chimes out the hours, quarters and halves. The history and culture of the Dutch come to life here with everyone dressed in native costumes, with its authentic
Dutch architecture, canals and windmills. There’s a wooden shoe factory, folk dancers, an old Frisian farmhouse, and much more including rides for the kids. Where else can you go where children may stroll with a goat on a leash?
I’m sure you’re wondering what all this has to do with my husband’s strange question. It’s because one of the park’s residents is a Toulouse Goose. (Toulouse rhymes with goose). This breed originated near
Toulouse, France. The name is found recorded back as far as 1555. They say this breed of goose generally has a placid disposition and this one surely did. Some reasons to make a pet of a goose are that they are good watch guards, they trim grass and weeds and they are very trusting in nature. Too bad most of them end up as a delicacy on the dinner table. Here’s what one geese owner said, ” I have a pair of Toulouse geese and they are very nice. They will rub up against me like a cat and sit down in my lap or right next to me. They also seem to understand every word I say and listen very well. They are very friendly and I would recommend geese to anyone willing to devote time and effort to them.” (By the way, these geese weigh between 20 and 30 pounds.)
Early one morning, while getting our Band Organ, tuned and ready to
play at the Dutch Village, we met one of these geese. “Toulouse” is his name. He makes his home at the park and he strolled behind his handler,
Howard Pipple. At the village, they call Howard the goose’s handler, but it didn’t take us long to see he was much more than that. The goose follows him everywhere. No matter where he went, the goose was right behind him. We acted surprised at this, but Mr. Pipple said, “We’ve had him since he was a gosling.” Then Howard bent down and picked him up. This massive bird made a wonderful pet, and obviously he thought this man, who cared for him, was his mother. Thus, the story behind Burl’s comment, which by the way, he had said with a laugh. I’m glad of that, because I don’t want to become a goose handler or goose mother. Looks like I’m
married to just a godly, sweet, loving, highly intelligent, husband and not a genius, at least, not an eccentric one. And, I don’t think he’d make a very good goose handler, either.
What do you think? Are you ready to trade in your dog for a goose?