Vrieze and Geese!

“Yes,” to Geese If You Please

Guest blog by Jody Vrieze

When we lived in Plymouth, Iowa, my husband and I realized there is more to a home than just a house. We embraced our love of nature and animals by creating a retreat in our yard featuring natural diversity and beauty. Our outdoor spaces incorporated annual and perennial flowers, bird feeders, chickens, and Sebastopol geese.

Stay-cations vs. Vacations

A backyard pond featured aquatic plants, and different fish like koi, shubunkin, and goldfish. Raised bed gardens and beekeeping gave us additional duties and joy to enhance our little piece of heaven. Every season brought new activities and treasures. We found that we much prefer quiet stay-cations over vacations!

Perhaps the Sebastopol geese were among my favorites. I would call them by simply saying, “Hi peep peeps!”. They’d be running and following me everywhere. Even as I kayaked! Amazing creatures.❤️

Finding Our Inner Geese Love

Their names are Winston, Willow, and Aspen.  When you watch the videos, Winston is always in the lead and Aspen is the smooth-feathered goose.  At a poultry swap, we dickered with a man over a pair of Sebastopol geese. We walked away and returned.  By then the goose had laid an egg.  My husband asked if we could buy that egg and the seller replied, “No, but you can have it.”.  The man asked if we wanted the pair of geese we’d dickered about to which my husband replied, “Nope, we have an egg!”  We bought pizza, and while eating I cradled the egg to keep it warm. We went right out and bought an incubator. After many adventures of incubator lessons – the right temperature, unplugged or not, and against all odds – on Mother’s Day Lucy hatched.

Winston, Lucy, and Aspen

Winston was added to keep Lucy company.  After losing Lucy, a lady brought an egg from a gal in Nebraska to add to the “family”.   Even more adventures awaited us with geese. One goose broke her leg and I used our koi pond for rehabilitation.

Winston, the goose, tragically lost several mates and lived to be five or so years old before meeting his demise.

Moving On and Planning Ahead

We have since moved and I’m looking forward to a new coop and some new chickens.

After I was asked to share our adventures for the Winding Pathways blogs, I found that I loved going back through the photos and videos and watching the fun we had.

Now in our new location, we recently had a pair of swans and their cygnet land in our field. They came one morning but are gone now. They must have been planning to hunker down for an impending January snowstorm.

Sharing a Serendipity

Carousel in Fairfield

People enjoyed the carousel rides at Fairfield, Iowa.

We invite you to share a serendipity you have experienced. A recent overnight to Fairfield, Iowa, delighted us with unexpected bliss, a sense of connection, and enchantment. On recalling other times when we found ourselves in wonderous situations and with engaging people we decided to ask readers to share their times of serendipity.  When all aligned and you were left feeling happy and blessed. So, we would like to hear from you.  Send a short remembrance and photo if you have one to us by December 10, 2022. Later we will combine your remembrances and ours, and post as a blog on Serendipities.

Frog Statue Fun

Near our home is a frog statue that a neighbor decorates seasonally and for special occasions.

Here are some photos I have taken over the years.


Mysterious Disappearance of 2020 Labyrinths

Where Did the 2020 Labyrinth Blog Go?

I’m curious what happened to the 2020 labyrinths blog! While I mainly walked the Phoenix Harmony Labyrinth in our yard, I know I walked other labyrinths. Edith Starr Chase’s lovely one at Wickiup Hill on a magical Winter Solstice evening.  The comforting labyrinth at New Bo District. And, early in the season, the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Waterloo, IA, labyrinth. Well, it will show up.  Meanwhile, here is a look back anyway.

I’ll just share again.

Now on to 2021!


What is Mentoring All About?

“It’s a monster!” Payton yelled out! His fishing pole, made for a child to catch tiny fish, bent in a 180-degree arch. Somehow, amazingly, he guided the monster close enough that I could grab its lower jaw. Seconds later it was in the boat.

Boy with bass

A proud fisherman.

Wow!  It was a monster. 5.1 pounds is a big Largemouth bass. After carefully removing the hook, we slid her back into the water. The fish finned away, yet the memory will linger for a lifetime.

We’ve known 10-year-old Payton and his family for several years. His parents don’t fish and they want him to develop a wide range of interests.  I, Rich have fished for most of my 72 years and offered to take him to a local pond. That was in the spring. We’ve since floated in my tiny row pram several times.




Mentoring. I thought I’d teach him how to fish. I sort of succeeded. At least by these skills he’s learned:

  • Casting with one hand.
  • Fishing without getting many tangles…..and being able to untangle most of the ones he does get.
  • Learning knot tying.
  • Identifying fish species.
  • Picking the right lure and gently handling and releasing fish.
  • Spotting mink, kingfishers, turtles, and toads.
  • Collecting data. We keep length and weight records of the fish we catch.

What I didn’t realize before we started fishing was what I’d learn, including the patience needed to untangle snarls of line. I also learned some new easy-to-tie knots so I could show Payton. And, we had the chance to talk about conservation as we got to know each other.

Boy with fish

Payton has learned several skills.

Mentoring. It’s fun. Fishing has been our activity but an adult mentor can spark a kid’s interest in all sorts of activities, ranging from playing golf to fixing engines. It’s rewarding to share a hobby with a youngster…..and initiate a lifelong passion.

Have You Noticed the Forest Magic?

Winding Pathways borders 110-acre Faulkes Heritage Woods, a primeval woodland that changed dramatically in 40 minutes last August 10, 2020, when a derecho roared through Eastern Nebraska, all of Iowa and into Illinois.

Indian Creek from ridge

A short walk through the woods brought us to Indian Creek.

Prior to the storm, the view from our back deck was of towering oaks, hickories, walnuts, and a few maples. We’d often walk a quarter-mile to Indian Creek under a nearly closed crown of intertwined branches far overhead.

Then a derecho roared through with 140-mile-an-hour winds. (Watch several videos of the storm)





When we ventured outside, we found two big trees on our garage and cabin, and most of our own trees prostrated. Our power and Internet were down. Our biggest shock was the woods. Instead of immense giants, we saw trees that had withstood 150 years of wind shattered. Some were uprooted. Many snapped off with their trunks standing like poles. Others were twisted apart by the powerful wind.

It was devastating.  Heartbreaking.  All winter our view was of broken trees………until spring’s warmth worked magic on the woods.

Forests are resilient. For the first April in over a century sunlight reached the forest floor. As it gained strength in May and June it triggered a resurgence of vegetation we’d never seen in the woods before. All were plants that can’t thrive in dense shade.

We were overjoyed to see tree sprouts. Baby oaks, hackberries, ironwood, maple, and basswoods popped up here and there. Soon they were joined by a thick growth of what many would call weeds.  A few are new to us, including oakleaf goosefoot. Some are concerning. The sunshine is encouraging invasive garlic mustard, multiflora rose, and Japanese barberry, but we also spotted something delicious.

Long dormant raspberry and blackberry canes rose from the soil.  We’ll enjoy a great berry harvest next summer and for many following years until new trees gradually shade them to dormancy.

Nature is resilient, and we’re watching a woodland resurrection from our back deck.

Watch a video from 12th Ave. Bridge in Cedar Rapids.