When winter brought the cold north wind, and the snowflakes began to fall, the little North Cornwall children were always told that the Old Woman was up in the sky plucking her Goose.
The children were very interested in the Old Sky Woman and her great White Goose, and they said, as they lifted their soft little faces to the grey of the cloud and watched the feathers of the big Sky Goose come whirling down, that she was a wonderful woman and her Goose a very big Goose.
‘I want to climb up to the sky to see the Old Woman plucking her Goose,’ cried a tiny boy; and he asked his mother to show him the great Sky Stairs. But his mother could not, for she did not know where the Sky Stairs were; so the poor little boy could not go up to see the Old Sky Woman plucking the beautiful feathers out of her big White Goose.
‘Where does the Old Woman keep her great White Goose?’ asked another child, with eyes and hair as dark as a raven’s wing, as he watched the snow-white feathers come dancing down.
‘In the beautiful Sky Meadows behind the clouds,’ his mother said.
‘What is the Old Sky Woman going to do with her great big Goose when she has picked her bare?’ queried a little maid with sweet, anxious eyes.
‘Stuff it with onions and sage,’ her Granfer said.
‘What will she do then with her great big Goose?’ the little maid asked.
‘Hang it up on the great Sky Goose-jack and roast for her Christmas dinner,’ her Granfer said.
‘Poor old Goose!’ cried the little maid.
‘I don’t believe the Old Sky Woman would be so unkind as to kill and pluck her great big Goose,’ said a wise little maid with sunny hair and eyes as blue as the summer sea.
‘Winter-time is the Sky Goose’s moulting time, and the Old Sky Woman is sweeping out the Sky Goose’s house with her great Sky Broom, and the White Goose’s feathers are flying down to keep the dear little flowers nice and warm till the north wind has gone away from the Cornish Land.’
‘Perhaps that is so, dear little maid,’ her Granfer said.
From North Cornwall Fairies and Legends by Enys Tregarthen
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