It was Thanksgiving and I was 10 years old. We were going to my Grandma and Grandpa Morris' ranch! We didn't get to see them too often because they lived in Dewey, and it was a long car drive from our ranch. But I always looked forward to holidays at their ranch. They had a special place that was nice and cold, like the holidays should be. They had a little house at the end of the driveway and on one side of the house was little pasture that had cows and a small hill towards the back of the pasture that we could climb. On the left of the house was a great big garden full of vegetables and a strawberry patch! You could walk through the patch and pick the freshest, sweetest strawberries you've ever tasted! Behind the house was the big red barn, it was mostly full of Grandpa's tools and old pieces of metal, we weren't allowed to play in the barn. But there was one exception if we wanted to get the old red wagon out. This was used in the side pasture to roll down the hills. Along the pasture stretched a big white fence, the perfect kind for climbing on top and walking the rails. There was also a big fence behind the barn, and the only reason I mention that fence is because on one visit to the ranch, I made a gruesome discovery. Six, long white, chicken legs. Only the chicken legs, no chicken bodies! I had wondered what happened to Grandma's chickens, and then I knew. We had them for dinner! That was the way it was at both our ranches. Most of the animals were either useful pets we used for riding, or goats for milking, chickens for eating or laying eggs and the cows in the pasture, they were for eating too. Grandma wouldn't let us name them, she felt bad if she got to friendly with them. She said it made them hard to say goodbye too. I knew that, but I couldn't help it, I always named them. I felt like even if we were going to eat them next year, they still deserved a name. Grandma and Grandpa's ranch was a wonderful place to play, you had to be more careful then at our ranch, you couldn't run through the house, or dig up the back yard, or pick too many vegetables and things like that. Only my little brother and little cousin got into much trouble with that stuff. Me, I just loved it. The house itself was always painted brightly and smelled of yummy baked things and turpentine. My Grandma Morris, was an artist. She was always painting something new in the den. It was wonderful to see her paintings half done on one visit and then fully finished on the next. This visit was no different, when we finally arrived and piled out of our big truck, we were greeted at the door by my Grandma smelling of paint and my Grandpa wearing an old flannel shirt and over-alls. The house smelled of turkey and dressing and fresh pies! It was cold and windy and felt like the perfect Thanksgiving. My Aunt and Uncle and three boy cousins arrived shortly after. I only had boy cousins and two brothers, so I was pretty good at either making up my own adventures or playing with the boys. But since you could only do that for so long, I always brought a book. My Grandpa and I shared that love, we both loved to read. It was something I looked forward to when we would visit. I had a plan this Thanksgiving, to do a lot of reading! I enjoyed it so much, I would sneak away and read as much of my Grandpa's Zane Grey collection as possible. I was only allowed to take one home at a time and since we didn't see them much, I couldn't risk not getting to read them. Unfortunately, on this trip I was interrupted way to often. being the only other girl, it seemed my aunt, my grandma and my mother, thought it best I learned how to help out more this Thanksgiving. So by the time we had cooked, eaten and began cleaning up, my exploring and reading time had already really dwindled. However, to my great surprise, my uncle and aunt, who had a plethora of useless animals, or pets as you might say, had heard about a farmer up the road who was giving away some geese. Everyone thought we each needed a Christmas goose this year. I wasn't so sure I wanted to eat the goose, I just wanted a goose. I mean who wouldn't? I'd never had one, but I loved chickens and ducks, so this must be a good idea. I was immediately distracted from all that reading and hill climbing I had planned. This was the real adventure! We all climbed into the back of my Uncle Dave's pick-up truck and headed down the dirt road to the goose farmer! I remember climbing out of the truck and seeing about a dozen geese waddling around the muddy yard and thinking, how are we ever going to get this thing home? I think my parents were thinking the same thing too. But like I said, I had some older boy cousins and they were game for catching some geese. So, off we all went running and slipping in the mud catching the loudest, meanest, hissing old geese you ever saw! If you've never seen your grandpa, your dad, uncle and your cousins catching geese, then you've really missed out. Because I thought it was much better than TV and even better than a good book! My mother is never one to silently watch on, as everyone else has the fun, so eventually she gave up cheering them on, and went to help gather up the loud, flapping things and put them in gunny sacks. When it was time to leave that year, we traveled all the way home a stinking, hissing, honking goose in the back of the truck. I worried that he wouldn't be alright all the way home, but he was. And although I knew he would very well end up on our table that Christmas, I gave him a name. He was Gambler, Gambler the Goose. We turned him out into the hen house with all the other chickens and ducks and then quickly had to shoo him out of the safe confines of the hen house. That old goose was so mean, he was biting and chasing and upsetting the hen house. We couldn't allow the goose to upset the laying hens. So we figured a goose than mean, could probably hold his own against a dog or a coyote or two. And well, sure enough a day later the dogs actually looked the other way and went out of their way to avoid him. My dad said that goose was looking tastier than ever, especially when he'd chase us up to the house if we got to close to him. One day, about a week before Christmas, as was his custom to chase us as far as the house, Gambler the Goose, spotted the truck. The very same truck he road home in, but today he was looking at the outside of the truck. And in that moment as that mean old goose was running with his wings spread and his neck out, honking and hissing and chasing us screaming kids, he saw what he thought was another goose. He stopped short and saw in that chrome bumper, the reflection of himself. It was in that moment that Gambler, no longer cared about chasing us up to the house, or hissing at the dogs, or even hardly coming to the barn for food. It was in that moment that Gambler, fell in love. I guess had we known all we needed to do was put a mirror in his pen and he'd leave everyone alone, I think we'd have done it the day we brought him home. But since this was our first goose, we were just as surprised as he was. Each day, that silly goose would pace back and forth at the rear bumper of my mother's truck and quietly honk and speak sweat goose things to his own reflection. Really the only time he ever chased anyone again was if we came to close to his precious truck. This might have been a solution, but as trucks go, this one was used quite often. Which required us to run quickly around the back bumper and climb into the truck. It was then, that we actually pitied our poor goose. As we would drive slowly down the dirt road, away from the house, Gambler would spread his wings and run as fast as he could after the truck, squawking and honking all the way until we reached the gate. He would then wait until we got home to return to hi post at the back of the truck. To Gamblers, credit and thinking about it now, he was a pretty smart goose. Becuase now, if a new truck or car would come up our driveway, Gambler felt the need to honk and yell and run behind it. I'm not sure if he was looking for another goose or if he was protecting his own truck, but any case, we had the best watch-goose around! Who could possibly eat such a useful animal?