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I always meant to observe, but never did, the spectacle of the migrating snow geese. Up to 20,000 snow geese make an annual pit-stop in Addison, Vt, on their way to their winter habitat (Compared to the upper reaches of Canada, Maryland must feel practically tropical.). Wouldn’t it be fun, I thought, for the kids to witness this natural phenomenon? Anticipating An Experience to Remember, I invited my goddaughter, the Bean, to join us.

It would take us an hour to get to the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area. Before we left, I called the Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s information line. A recorded message informed me that 2,000 snow geese and 500 other migratory birds had arrived! Hooray!

VT Route 7 is a gorgeous drive in the fall. I urged the kids to admire the passing scenery and peppered them with deep questions such as, “How many cows are over there? Do you know what those mountains are called? Why do birds fly south for the winter? Think we’ll see the camel?”

The camel? Oh, yes. In September, Henry and I spotted a two-humped camel in a pen along this same stretch of road. It’s not every day in New England that one sees a native desert dweller and she surprised us.

We reached the snow geese’s designated viewing area just after noon. The wind whipped our hair into nest-like towers as we exited the van then huddled for warmth in the lean-to. We tossed each other tidbits of knowledge gleaned from poop-christened signs. The stage was set. Where was the main act?

We scanned the fenced field dotted with mud and lined with corn stalks. A group of black birds wheeled in the sky above us. But no geese. How were we missing 2,000 geese? When the breeze brought us faint honking sounds, I squinted to find the source. Far, far, far in the distance, a thin, white ribbon rippled between the static brown field and the bluish-purple mountains. That narrow stripe was the flock.

The four kids fought over the three pairs of binoculars (poor planning on my part). Even so, all of us were watching when five white fluffs rose into the air and drifted off. It wasn’t long before someone clamored for lunch. On the grassy area next to the lean-to, we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, popcorn, and grapes. The kids delighted in the homemade babe ruth bars Bean brought to share–the sugar was quickly metabolized in their chase over and around some boulders.

I was disappointed but didn’t want to admit it. “Ok, everybody! Time to go. Let’s load up!”

As the kids piled into the van, Large said, “Well, at least we didn’t come for nothing.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, we saw the geese and those other little birds and we got to have a picnic…with dessert.”

“Did you have fun?”

A chorus of “yeahs” soothed my lumps.

“Thanks, guys.”

On our trip home, we saw a pair of bi-curious heifers and wonder of wonders: The Camel. It was a memorable trip. Even if it wasn’t for the same reasons I thought it would be.

snow geese trip

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