Recently a dear friend gave me an unusual gift. It consisted of an old ink bottle, a bottle of ink, and a goose feather. The ink bottle is the kind school children used to place in an inkwell on top of their school desks. This gift brought back a rush of memories, some good and some not so good.
I was scared to death of our old gander when I was a little girl. He was meaner and more aggressive than my dad's herd dog or the old ram who thought he owned the entire barnyard. I was always careful to make certain I didn't go anywhere near that goose when I made a trip to the barn. Once he attacked my little brother and left him so pinched and bruised he looked like he'd been beaten. Shortly after, a crop duster plane swooped low over the field next to the garden and my three-year-old brother ran screaming to the house, "Goose! Goose!" No way was he going to hang around to let a "goose" that size get him.
Because we had a good sized flock of geese, my mother always prepared a roast goose for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Those holidays always bring back memories of those wonderful dinners and my mother who was an excellent cook. Ironically my friend gave me that goose feather on the day that would have been my mother's one hundredth birthday if she were still alive.
My father was a story teller and that ink pot reminded me of a story he often told of being sent home from school because he dipped the long blond braids of the little Swedish girl who sat in front of him into the black ink pot that sat on his desk in the little one room school he attended in Canada.
An ink pot and a goose feather got me in trouble in a small Montana school I attended, too. I was placed in a mixed sixth/seventh grade class as was my friend, David. We were horrified because we were the top competitors for our grade and the other students were all the students who struggled the hardest and got the poorest grades. We were bored! We wanted a more challenging curriculum and we wanted to be with our friends. Neither the principal or our teacher were sympathetic to our pleas to be placed in the other class. Then Mrs. Wanship, our teacher, decided that all students must turn in papers and take spelling tests only in ink. Ballpoints weren't allowed. Everyone dutifully showed up at school the next Monday with stick pens and bottles of ink. Not David and I. We cut points on goose quills and proceeded to use our homemade pens exclusively. Those quill pens screeched and squealed and if we pressed down hard, the shrill sound they made had the whole class clapping their hands over their ears. Our fun didn't last long. By the end of the week, Mrs. Wanship, in tears, marched us down to the principal's office and our parents were called. The next day we were moved to the regular seventh grade class. Our goose quill pens weren't allowed to go with us.
When my sister died a few months ago, her husband gave me a bell from her bell collection. It's an old fashioned brass hand bell she acquired when a one room school she once visited closed and its contents were sold. I placed the bottle of ink, the antique ink pot, and the goose feather in my curio cabinet beside my sister's bell. They and the memories seem to go well together.