I am gobsmacked (what they say in Australia for surprised and amazed). Just when I thought that the summer library reading programs were all but over for this year, and nothing new would happen, I got the biggest delight of the summer! My next to last show of the season of "Gobsmacked!" (a program of Australian folktales, accompanied by some Australian treasures I brought home from my trip there last year) was in teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, North Carolina, where everyone is happy to know each other. The amazing, energizing librarian, Brenda, had gathered a hearty audience of diverse ages, all eager to be at the library and at my program.
Also in the audience was Mildred, an Australian Cape Barren goose.
Mildred had a great deal to say during my show. She especially related to the story about how birds got their colors and their songs, told with shadow puppets. When the birds in my story, one by one, got their own particular sound or song, she spoke up in her own inimitable honking that sounds suspiciously like a pig snorting. HHHHHHHOOOOOIIIIIINK. She was clearly mighty proud to possess this sound.
And then I got to meet Brent, who brought Mildred from Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Bird Park. The park is situated right at the edge of teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, an enormous, gorgeous refuge for all manner of gobsmacking birds from every corner of the world. Civilians and ornithologists flock to Scotland Neck to study what Brent and his family know about birds, especially waterfowl, which is huge.
Brent took time from his own work to show some of the Australian birds to my North Carolina friend, Gayle, and me (she's the photographer of the accompanying bird photographs). Brent even lept into an enclosure to retrieve a gorgeous, freshly shed feather for me.
Yep, I'm gobsmacked, and I'll be returning to Scotland Neck as soon as possible. You might want to check it out for yourself: http://shwpark.com/. And while you're there, go say hi from me to Brenda at the Scotland Neck Memorial Library.