Friday, November 11, 2005


One of the places we stopped was Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

There’s a visitor’s center, and a nearby winery. A winery that sells mead.

We first went to the refuge. It covers several thousand acres of marshland and waterways. The area is part of the flyway for migrating birds at the northern end of Cayuga Lake. Tens of thousands of birds stop there on their way south in the fall and north in the spring.

The park has a small office/gift shop.

I bought a Montezuma hat. (Yes, Santa sometimes acts like a tourist.)

Near the visitor’s center there is a small tower. People can climb it to look out over the marshlands at all the birds.

Mrs. Claus and I were enjoying the view when she started to laugh.

When I looked at her questioningly, she pointed down.

The tower was surrounded by a herd of deer!

Because of my special relationship with reindeer, all of their relatives have a fondness for me.

Well, I climbed down and greeted them all with a pat, and a carrot or two (amazing how much you can carry when you have pockets made of the same magic material as the Christmas gift sack!).

A family happened to be driving by, heading into the preserve to see the birds. You should have seen the look on the two children’s faces. A jolly, plump, white bearded man surrounded by deer.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

We then stopped at the Montezuma Winery just down the road.

I’d heard they sold good mead. I was not disappointed.

During the wine tasting, I tried as many of the mead varieties as I could. They were wonderful!

Mrs. Claus tried some of the fruit wines.

She let me try her Cranberry Bog. Delicious.

Now, let me say something here for my younger readers.

Santa is an adult. He does drink beer, wine, and other spirits – but always responsibly. I never have more than a glass or two, and I never drive the sleigh for at least an hour after a drink!

Anyway, we picked out several bottles to buy, and went to the check out.

The clerk was a young woman with a nose ring in her nose.

After she tallied our total for the bottles we’d brought to the counter, she asked, “Will there be anything else?”

“Yes. I’d like to have some mead shipped.”

“Fine. How many bottles?”

“Fifty cases each of your dry, sweet and semisweet, and ten cases of your Cherry Honey Wine.”

I thought her jaw was going to fall off.

“I, ah, I, um. I have to get the manager.”

She rushed to the back of the store, and returned a moment later with a young man.

“I understand you want to place a large order,” he said.

“Yes, 160 cases total.”

“Are you associated with a liquor store?” he asked suspiciously.

“No. But I run a factory in an isolated place. The workers live on site for long periods of time. We have to bring in all our supplies. And my workers have a fondness for mead.”

Indeed, the elves love their mead!

Well, he had to make a call to meadery home office.

It took close to half an hour, but we got final approval. They even gave us a discount.

I arranged to have the mead shipped to Zbigniew Ting’s place in Moosenee, Canada

As I paid, I told the manager, “By the way, we may be ordering more.”

“I think I’d like to see this place where they like mead this much,” the manager said.

I chuckled.

“Many folks feel the same way.”

As we left, I turned and waved.

“Thank you. And Merry Christmas!”

His eyes widened suddenly.

Sometimes it’s fun to be Santa!


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