Dear Dr. Boli: I gather that botany is one of your many interests and areas of expertise, so I turn to you with this question. The prophet Amos claimed to be “a dresser of sycamores.” Can you explain this profession? It’s about the most bizarre way of making a living I’ve ever heard of. —Sincerely, Regina Terrae.

Dear Madam: The dressing of sycamores strikes us as odd; yet, in our own country, the trackless suburbs of the Middle West nourish a vast industry devoted to dressing concrete geese. The fashions of bygone ages invariably seem ridiculous, while those of our own era seem quite ordinary and rational. If the ladies of suburban Samaria and Jerusalem liked their sycamore trees with a bit of crinoline and lace, we modern Americans ought not to judge them, lest our concrete geese be judged. We read of vine-dressers in the Bible as well, so the fad for horticultural costuming was evidently quite popular among hobbyists. It was not popular enough, however, for Amos to make a living at it; he had to keep a bunch of grubby sheep around for his primary income.

It should be noted that the sycamore of the Bible is a species of fig (Ficus sycomorus), not the common sycamore tree of our American forests (Platanus occidentalis). The American sycamore, with its chronically flaking bark, would make a poor subject for dress-up games.


  1. Regina Terrae says:

    Oh, good heavens … I was blissfully unaware of that concrete goose-clothing industry until now. I … I … gosh, I just don’t know. Speechless!

    Thank you for your enlightening response. The platanus occidentalis does have an embarrassing habit of shedding its bark in public, doesn’t it? Seems like someone ought to do something about dressing it!

    R. Terrae

  2. One of our family friends has the sort of goose you mention. And yes, she dresses it up in different costumes every few weeks. A patriotic red-white-and-blue for early July, a Santa outfit for late December, a leprechaun costume for mid-march…it should come as no surprise that she’s also the sort of crazy old lady who has an endless stream of small, yappy, hypochrondriac-by-proxy dogs all named Annie.

    • Caren says:

      On googling, I was startled to find an entire industry devoted to dressing geese. And was Dr. Boli aware that there are four different sizes of concrete geese, each requiring their own outfits?

  3. John M says:

    What type of dressing does one serve with a concrete goose?

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