When I was seventeen we lived in Costa Rica, on the mountaintop rainforest of San Ramon de Tres Rios. We lived in a cabin surrounded by bushes with pink blossoms as large as human heads. A red hummingbird feeder hung outside the kitchen window and the beautiful little birds zinged to and fro, from flowers to feeder and back again. In the evenings, sunsets lit fires in the sky.

One day the neighbors bought a goose and set to plumping it up.

Every morning for many months that goose honked  — loud, boisterous, look-at-me-ain’t-I-something kind of honking, and continued honking until I would roll out of bed, bleary-eyed and slightly distraught.

Dad would hand me a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Mom stood at the kitchen window watching the hummingbirds, a dishcloth flung over her shoulder. My brother ate cereal. Dad squeezed more oranges.

The goose honked.

“Christmas is only a week away,” said Mom.


We nodded.

These days, I’m revising a picture book and there’s a beautiful little two-line sequence that is my darling. But the lines are honking, the story slightly distraught. I never loved the neighbor’s goose the way I love these two lines.

Even so, Christmas is only a week away.