hair now

IMG-20130122-00385remember this gal?

I’ve spent a fair amount of time lately, digging around my closet, looking for those cold-weather layers that haven’t seen the light of day in ages.  That, plus I’ve been to a couple of fundraisers, the kind that send me scurrying and wondering where I last hung up my dressy wool coat and little black bag.  In both the bag and in my multiple outerwear pockets, I’ve been surprised to find items that I have no use for anymore, or at least not anytime soon.

Hair stuff.

My very few male readers probably don’t know what I’m talking about here, but if you’re female, you know.  It’s rubber bands and bobbie pins, barrettes and scrunchies, combs and brushes.  It’s the accouterments that used to keep my hair out of my face, back when my hair got in my face.  I have a drawer devoted to such things.  I just hadn’t looked in that drawer for, hmm, ten months?  In that time, I’ve been busy doing the post-chemo head-covering dance.

IMG_2269Doesn’t everyone have a stash that looks something like this?

Here’s the short version of my hair story.  It started when I bought a wig, before I’d lost a single strand of hair.  I got it early, as I was advised, so the wig lady would know what we would be trying to replicate.  (She thought I was Anna Wintour.  I’m not.) Then I sat down for a “You can’t fire me, I quit” haircut, which made the hair loss episodes less dire on our plumbing, if not on my psyche.  After that, I invested in ski hats, berets, scarves, bandanas.  I snapped up headwear like nobody’s business.  Then I watched and waited.

IMG-20130110-00322A small portion of my scarf stash.  Never did go the turban route.

What happened next was an exercise in being the frog in the lukewarm pot of water.  When the heat got turned up, I sort of noticed, but not entirely.  My hair got thin, then thinner.  But never fell out in whole blotchy clumps.  It got a bit rubbed off on the side I most often sleep on, the same way my boys rubbed off the hair on the back of their heads when they were tiny babies.  My sweetheart likened me to the Velveteen Rabbit, my fuzz loved away.

But it didn’t all fall out.   I kept enough hair to fake it, a bit.  I relocated my part.  I worked the comb-over. I wore the one hat I actually liked, from that big shopping spree.  I left the wig in the bag.   I kept my head covered when I went out, and said, “Fine thanks, and you?” when people asked how I was.  It was part of my armor, to shield myself from being defined by my appearance.  I thought I had it covered, all buttoned up.

IMG-20130617-01025Yeah, right.  Who was I kidding?

Which makes me sound like some proud, strong thing.  I’m not, trust me, when it comes to accepting what I looked like, then or now.  I will all but rip your cell phone out of your hands if you try to take my picture, whether I’ve got a hat on these days or not.   There’s something about seeing what I look like in photos that’s oddly disconcerting.  Seriously, that’s what I look like?  What happened to my eyebrows?

I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s two of me out there.  First, there’s the image I have, when I brace myself and peek in the bathroom mirror in the morning.  Oh, hello.   And then there’s the version I catch at odd moments, the sidelong view in storefront windows, or the extreme close-up, abruptly reflected back at me, on my laptop screen.  There’s the one I get to steel myself for, before I brush my teeth, and the one that catches me unaware, all day long.  Two versions of me, that I’m hoping to reconcile sometime soon.

Which is where I still am today, even though I’ve officially got hair—a whole headful, thank you very much.   But here’s the part I wasn’t expecting: it’s not my hair that’s growing in on me.  It’s my mother’s.  It’s her shade of dark brown, darker than mine ever was, even absent my salon highlights.  It’s tending towards gray all over, like my mom’s did, not just around my temples, where I was before.  Oh, and it stands on end.  I’m like a six-year-old boy who went to bed straight out of the bathtub, sporting a floppy crewcut and cowlicks by the dozen.   I have no control over which direction my hair is headed these days.  And I’m mostly grateful that the part that would be bangs seems willing to give me an extra inch or so by popping up at attention, and staying that way, night and day.

And yet, odd though my current coif may be, the hair on my head has definitely crossed the line in a good way.  If I go for a walk without my hat on, I no longer elicit the “Are You Okay?” queries.  Reactions to my current look have fast-forwarded to, “Oh geez! I didn’t recognize you!”  And “Great haircut!”  I’m convinced the “great haircut” comment is generally thrown in to make up for not recognizing me.  When we had that hazy hot and humid streak late in August,  I got a lot of kudos around what a good idea my summertime buzz was.  Yeah, thanks!  Global warming and tamoxifen drove me to this pixie, on account of hormones and the humidity!  Right!

IMG_2272Oh, okay, there you have it.  My new hair, from above.

So, sports fans, here’s where I am.  Still a little taken aback by my reflection, still a little oblivious to what the world sees when it looks at me.   And yet, a whole lot more sensitive to other people’s hairdos and headwear, and more thoughtful to what they might be keeping under their hats, literal or otherwise.  Like, for instance, the woman I saw at that fundraiser, for my hospital’s breast center.  After the usual niceties and how’ve-you-been catch ups, she said what I was thinking:  “So…is that a chemo-bob?”   Yep, that’s what this is.  Been there, done that.

IMG_2273For sale: One wig. Never worn.

A six-word story no where near as sad as Hemingway’s version, about the baby shoes.

Advertisements

That time of year thou mayst in me behold

IMG_2042I can’t stop looking up, these days.

I have a little checklist that lives in my head, of possible future blog post subjects.  Which is a far cry from an actual stash of posts, sitting on a cyber-shelf, awaiting their designated publication date.  My list is made of thought bubbles only, beyond ethereal.  And yet, I’m reassured, somehow, to know I’ve got a couple of topic sentences squirreled away for future consideration, when I might otherwise be staring at an empty screen and not know where to begin.

 

 

Then I have a day like today, a day that pushes all other topics aside and demands to be memorialized.  Put that list away!

IMG-20121023-02167

 

What is it that makes these end-of-season mornings, afternoons, and evenings so heart-string-plucking glorious?  The light filtered through yellow maple leaves. The air, blissfully and blessedly soft and warm.  The glorious sky, an embarrassment of blue, in excess by any measure. 

IMG_1734

 

 These days demand to be paid attention to and duly noted.  I feel like I barely have a choice about making time to see, really see, these glorious days.  It’s required.  And there’s something urgent in the light this time of year, particularly at this point in my life.  This autumn more than any that have come before.   “Pay attention to me!” my whole world seems to be saying.  “Look up! Look around!  It’ll be gone before you know it!”

IMG_1888Look up.  Look down.  Look all around!

 

 

I keep stopping in my tracks—on the back porch, in the middle of grocery store parking lots, walking along brick sidewalks.  I keep taking photos, sometimes of the same tree, same branch, same leaves, day after day, until the leaves are in a puddle of foliage on the sidewalk.  I keep finding bits of sky and shadows of trees that need to be remembered.   I seek out the moonrises on these cerulean sky evenings, walking home.   I am startled from the depths of sleep, when the selfsame moon wakes me, on its arc across the pre-dawn sky, setting as the sun rises.  A few days will pass, I will have forgotten to be on the lookout, and–oh!  The moon will take me by surprise once more, in the form of a fingernail, dangling in the middle of a bright blue midday sky.   

 

Does anyone ever grow old enough to stop being astonished by this miracle of time passing?

IMG_1900shadows and light, all over town.

 

If one more remarkable morning this autumn wasn’t enough, I had another treat waiting for me today.  My day began with a sonnet, because my first email of the day is almost always the one that The Writer’s Almanac delivers to my inbox.  And today, it began with William Shakespeare’s ode to growing old, to fading sunsets and black nights, and to love—blessed, unswerving love that soldiers on, even in the face of an ever more assured end to come.  An ode to autumn, and to That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold:

 

 

Sonnet 73

 

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

 

 

I remember this sonnet vividly from my English 10 days, one stop on a classic collegiate romp from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf.   What I don’t remember is having any sense that Shakespeare’s  words could ever feel so specifically relatable to me.  Ah, what a difference three decades makes.  That time of year? Thou mayst in me behold?  Oh, baby, yeah.  I am feeling so very autumnal, so twilight.  So not spry.  So brittle.  So much a shadow of my former self, in so many ways.

 

It’s not like I’m careening into old age here.  Ere long is still a long, long way away, god willing.  But the sense of things coming round to a new beginning, or to the beginning of a last installment—that I am keenly aware of, these days. 

I got a call-back from a mammogram.  I’ve put the to-do list of that event behind me, and I feel done with it.  Ready to re-up for something resembling my regularly scheduled programming, maybe even a new, improved version of life as I’ve known it.

And yet, and yet.  You brush up against your mortality, and you are introduced to a fact that never seems quite so obvious to the young, to the carefree: that there is an inevitable end for us all.  We are all of us, mortal. There are only so many glorious blue sky days in any one life.  The time to start remembering to cherish them might as well be today.

IMG_2022

Which, again, circles round to being acutely aware of the days, these days.  The sun, the sky, the moon, the stars.  The people I love.  The music that makes me teary.  The books I can pick up and start reading any page and know where I am, as with an old friend.  The thrill of ones I have yet to read.  The taste of Julia Child’s applesauce, of my applesauce.  The loves in my life.  The light, this time of year. 

It’s all connected.

IMG-20121112-00088

 

 

motherhood, baseball, and applesauce

IMG_1759A familiar scene in my kitchen, this time of year.

We live in the part of my hometown where all the old, tall, famous people live.  Or used to, more like.  Truth be told, there were only two people who ever legitimately filled that bill, but they were outsized doozies by any measure: Nobel laureate John Kenneth Galbraith, and French chef extraordinaire Julia Child.  It was a treat to have their six-foot-plus fame in our midst, amusing to run into them at the dry cleaners, fun to peek at what they had in their grocery carts.  Okay, that only happened once with Julia–who, for the record, wasn’t beneath stocking up on Pepperidge Farm goldfish.

Alas, they’re both long gone from this world, their houses now otherwise occupied.   But the memory of them always percolates up for me most vividly when October rolls around.  Because the Galbraiths were the most entertaining neighbors to visit with our boys at Halloween (think wooden Balinese masks and full-sized candy bars), while Julia inspired an October cooking obsession in me that lives on to this day.

IMG_1773Here’s where it all began.  Oh, and I got to visit that kitchen, before it moved to the Smithsonian Museum!

My annual cooking effort began just after Julia published The Way To Cook, her 1989 opus.  That cookbook included a drop-dead fantastic recipe for applesauce.  Having a local culinary legend provide me with the definitive how-to was all the coaxing I needed to do exactly what my mom had always done, every October.

 IMG_1781Here it is.   But the fact is, I don’t check the recipe anymore.  I know how many bags of apples fit into my blue pot, and how many Ball jars that will bubble down to.  No measurements required.

I’m sure that Julia’s applesauce recipe includes more ingredients than my mom’s ever did. Which, now that I think of it, presumes that my mom ever had a recipe to follow, which was probably never the case.  Making applesauce was simply what any mother with an obliging apple tree in the back yard did, back in Maine, back in the day.  It was something my mother probably learned from her mother, Mary Crie, who learned it from her mother, great-grandma Campbell.  Apples make landfall out by the clothesline, women gather them up and turn them into pies and applesauce, no cookbooks required.

IMG-20121030-00013The apples I had to pick up in my back yard were never this aesthetically pleasing.

I hated the job of collecting apples when I was young.  The swarms of yellow jackets that visited them on the ground were a source of nightmares.  None of the fruit I gathered looked like anything you’d find in the grocery store, and most looked like sad mistakes of nature, knobby and bruised and never particularly round.  They came, they fell, they couldn’t really be good for anything, could they?  Well, no, except for those who wielded Foley food mills.  Armed with that contraption, any mother could turn brownish backyard fallout into something worthwhile.

IMG_1765Tools of the trade.  And that’s not my mom’s Foley food mill, no siree.  That’s the Rolls Royce of food mills, courtesy of William-Sonoma.  Had to take out a mortgage on that baby, all but.  Worth every penny.

Fast forward a few decades, and there I was, with Julia Child’s recipe in my cookbook holder and a pair of applesauce-loving toddlers underfoot. I decided to yield to my maternal roots and create my own applesauce-making  tradition, minus the windfall fruit.

But absent an obliging tree, what’s the signal that applesauce-making time has come?  For me, it will always be the convergence of two autumnal events: the start of the post-season baseball schedule, and the moment that the local supermarkets advertise half-peck bags of Macintoshes and Cortlands and Empires at somewhere south of a dollar a pound.   You can set your watch to both these predictable events, always in early October.

IMG_1819The best of all convergences: Applesauce season, and the Sox still in the hunt.

Cheap raw material is an obvious reason to ramp up one’s applesauce production in October, but the baseball connection?  That turns out to be a grand intersection of October Things That Take Time.   Which goes like this: If you care about baseball, and if your team’s still in the hunt in October, there are sure to be lots of late nights spent watching TV, cheering for this year’s heroes, bemoaning the commentary on Fox, and, in our case, hoping for yet another Red Sox miracle.   The further into the post-season they make it, the later and longer the games go.  It’s just a baseball fact.

So while you’re watching and pacing and waiting for some baseball magic, making applesauce turns out to be a good thing to have going on, on the back burner.  And on the front burner, as well.  Turns out, it takes three burners: one for the apples to bubble away, one to sterilize the Ball jars beforehand, and seal the tops after they’re filled. And one more burner, for the pot that simmers the lids.  Which sounds like a lot of work, but it really isn’t.  It just takes time and space for things to come to a boil, to get to the right state of mushiness.  Nothing but time.  And baseball has all the time in the world.

 IMG_1768From crisp apples to warm mush to pure deliciousness. Just give it some time.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that there are other things that lend themselves to multi-tasking with my applesauce-making efforts. Observing presidential debates warrants an evening of chopping those Cortlands, squeezing those lemons.  (Yep, that’s the magic ingredient: lemon rind and lemon juice, along with cinnamon, a dash of sugar, and a touch of vanilla. Julia was a genius!)  Waiting for election returns is also a good excuse for having something else to show for your efforts at the end of the night.  I think I might have been making applesauce when our younger son was in the college application throes, and an early action deadline was looming upon us.  It’s always good to be the mom who’s got something else on the stove.  Literally.

IMG-20121024-02204Yeah, I probably did.  But only because the Red Sox weren’t in it.

One thing I wish I’d done over the years was to keep a sampling of all those lids, where I commemorated the nights when extraordinary things were happening as my applesauce bubbled away.  A friend who ran for Congress lost a close race in 2010, and came back two years later to take that seat—I commemorated both those late night vote counts with NH 2nd district  applesauce.  There was a batch of Joe Biden-Sarah Palin debate applesauce, but none for Amy Poeler-Tina Fey–much as I loved those SNL skits, they were too short, and started too late for my applesauce-making time frame.  In less than stellar Red Sox years, there have been  farewell applesauce batches, as careers came to a close: Bye bye, Mike Lowell.  Thanks for all you did for us, Tim Wakefield.

This year, I made a first batch of the season for my buddies in Whipple OH who are die-hard Pittsburgh Pirates fans, on the occasion of their team’s first post-season victory in decades.

IMG_1550This batch is for you, Bucco fans!

And this year as always, it seems that the label is as much about the people who might enjoy my efforts, and the things they care about, as it is about the event commemorated.   I love it when friends and family can both enjoy my applesauce and say to themselves, “Yeah, that was a good game, a good night.”

IMG_1776

a week in the life

IMG_1609Don’t ask me why, but there are pianos all over town.  Joy!

I’m not a total media dropout.  I know there’s an endless supply of bad news—government shutdowns, rogue terrorists, climate change and economic angst, top to bottom.  I confess that there are mornings when I go straight to my preset college radio stations with their alternate music offerings, so as not to have to listen to the litany of breaking news stories—and honestly, until NPR sneaks in a human interest piece about fifty minutes into that first hour of morning programming, the news can be awfully grim these days.

I’m also well aware that my little hill of beans amounts to next to nothing, calamity-wise.   There’s a world of hurt out there.   I’m doing just fine, thanks.

Which makes what I am about to celebrate that much more….flimsy, maybe? How, in the face of such worldwide angst, can I paint such a sunshiny picture of the week past?   I don’t know.  I probably need to find some outlets for paying better attention, doing the world more favors. Add that to my To-Do list, along with Be Less Snarky.

But even as I contemplate how I might make more of a difference in this crazy world, I feel an obligation celebrate the joys in my life, as they plant themselves along my path.   It would be wrong, to miss the gifts along the way, or to dismiss them as insignificant in the face of greater concerns.  That’s my current plan, anyhow: be on the lookout for joy, and celebrate it, wherever it shows up.

So, mindful of how lucky I really am, and how many good things there are in this world, here’s a report of a lovely week in the life:

IMG_1652Overhead, underfoot.  Beauty, everywhere.

First off, file this under, I Love Where I Live.  Which is just a few blocks from the place where Good Will Hunting told the jerkoff grad student that he was wasting a quarter of a million bucks on an education he could have gotten for $1.50 in late fees from the public library, or words to that effect.  Truth is, if you pay close attention and are in the right spot at the right time, you can get a front row seat to greatness in my hometown, and a pretty good education for free.

Seeing a line of folks at the central campus box office, I had a sense that there might be something interesting up for grabs.  Turned out there were two such things: free tickets to a pair of events that would be taking place later in the week at Sanders Theater, just a five minute walk from my front door.

IMG_1414Event #1. Meet a future Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The first ticket admitted me to a ceremony where Malala Yousafzai would be honored for her extraordinary work as an advocate for gender equality in education.  You may remember her as the little girl from Pakistan who took a bullet to the head from the Taliban, for the sin of being a girl and wanting to going to school.  She is, I am delighted to say, most remarkably recovered from that attack.  And she is a force of humanitarian good in this turbulent world.  I felt humbled, to be in her presence.  If only the world leaders would listen to her message:  “Instead of soldiers, send teachers.  Instead of weapons, send books, paper, pencils.  They have guns, they think that makes them powerful.  I am filling my brain with knowledge, that is a greater power.”   Amen to that.

IMG_1429Low light.   Lousy photo.  Amazing grace.

A few days later, a similar opportunity: my free pass got me to another awards ceremony, this time for the W.E.B. DuBois honorees.  Oh, just a few luminaries: Tony Kushner, David Stern, Steven Spielberg.  Two who were honored in absentia, due to the actions of the “teahadists” in DC (John Lewis, Valerie Jarret, and I have to thank my friend JR for that delightfully snarky term.  Oops, meant not to go there…) And finally, a true hero of mine: Sonya Sotomayor.

IMG_1595Just another hero down the street.

Unfortunately, this event had too many people talking for too long, and not enough time for the honorees to give us what we all really wanted, which was more of them.  But even within the limits of her brief thank you, Justice Sotomayor’s message started and ended with the importance of giving back.  She would not be here, she told us, without standing on the shoulders of those who came before her. Having just read her memoir, My Beloved World, I was both charmed to hear her actual voice, and frustrated to not hear more of her.  But the afternoon was wearing on into evening, and I suspect she and all the other honorees all had places to get to and good work to keep hammering away at.  Such are the lives of true heroes.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the river…

IMG_1536All credit to Sports Illustrated for this visual.

And superstitious thankfulness, that they didn’t put this photo on the cover.

Oh, my beloved Red Sox.  Worst team in the AL East last year, division champions today.  Scoring runs by bunches.  Pitching tough. Pulling each other’s beards in solidarity, or something.  Finding ways to lift each other up, and in doing so, lifting up a whole city, an entire region. Red Sox Nation is in a jubilant place today.  I got to be in Fenway Park, that happiest of places, on Saturday.  It began with a blessedly early start time, with parting clouds and the sun’s glorious farewell, light streaming in the way only October light can.  From there the evening unfolded: Big Papi swatting homers.  Artful double plays, ending innings with exclamation points.  Relief pitcher Uehara stiking out the first two batters in the top of the ninth on six pitches.  Watching him is like watching the world’s best gymnasts, the ones you don’t worry about falling off the beam because they’re so good, so good, so good!  Delightful friends and fellow Sox lovers to enjoy the game with.  Final out by the entirely civilized hour of 9PM.  Happy revelers on Yawkey Way.  A good time was had by all.

IMG_1667I even brought the perfect pre-game reading material! For those of you who need your reading glasses, Dani Shapiro’s new book, Still Writing, begins with this opening line : “I’ve heard it told that everything you need to know about life can be learned from watching baseball.”  Ain’t it the truth?

Yeah, there are weeks when I am the luckiest person I know. This was one of them.

Book review alert: The Affairs of Others

IMG_1578As our resident art critic noted, good graphics here.  Unlike so much book cover art these days…

Hot off the cyber-presses, still top of the home page heap at the Washington Independent Review of Books:

http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/bookreview/the-affairs-of-others

Some day I’ll figure out how to imbed a link into a post more elegantly than that.

I really, really liked this book.  First time author, so you won’t find this novel on the best-seller lists you might peruse in your Sunday papers, nor in the window at your local bookstore.  But well worth finding and reading.

Thank you, once again, my Mower B-31-mate, for this opportunity.  And for any of you out there in book groups, the Washington Independent Review is a nice place to start when you’re trying to figure out what your next read might be.  Or even if you’re not in a book group.  Home page here:  http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/

The Affairs of Others

  • Amy Grace Loyd
  • Picador
  • 304 pp.
  • Reviewed by: K.H. Macomber
  • October 2, 2013

A young widow’s set boundaries and isolation begin to dissolve when a new tenant in her apartment building brings chaos and unpredictability.

Enjoy!

note to self: be less snarky

IMG_1380Here be goldfinches.  And song sparrows.  And a whole lot more.

Okay, dear readers, I know you all think I’m a decent human being.  Cheerful, patient, helpful.  I like to think so, too.  But, truth be told, I have a snarky streak. And when my snarky side percolates up and leaks out, I inevitably shame myself.  At this juncture, one of two things happens: I either come to my senses on my own, usually in short and embarrassed order, and try to mop up after my lousy first instinct, or am pointed in the right direction by some kindly soul—with luck, sooner rather than later.  And yet, somehow, never soon enough.  In the department of things I should definitely be work on, stifling the snark is a worthy goal.

Case in point: on a recent round-the-reservoir walk, I stopped in at the waterworks building, both to use the facilities and to check the community white board.  That’s where far better birders than I make note of recent sightings.  And given that I’m at that low-intermediate birding place, where a tiny bit of information about something just beyond my ken provides me with helpful hints for what to look out for, I’m always grateful to learn what my betters have seen.  So, as I left the bathroom, I took a quick detour to see if any recent birders had written down anything of note.  Here’s what I found:

IMG_1384

 Wow.  W O W.  I don’t even know where to begin with this.  What attention! What precision! What tidy handwriting!  This was the work of a master, way above my competence level.  And while I was instantaneously amazed and grateful to have this list before me, the better to become a true birder in this master’s wake, I could feel the snarky thought bubbling up:

Show off.

Well, yes, maybe.  But as Mohammad Ali used to say, it ain’t bragging if you can do it.  Or in this case, if you can spend a chunk of time and ID this many species, and are willing to take the time to see them, note them, and write them down for the edification of the likes of me, well then, wow.

But I hadn’t gotten there yet.  I was stuck at snark.

With that quick cellphone camera shot, I sent the list to my friend JZ, a remarkable writer, artist and naturalist who counts birding amongst her many areas of expertise.  My subject line? Dammit, I couldn’t stop myself: again, with the “Show Off” business.  Why? Maybe I meant to be funny, meant to be self-deprecating, meant to be…oh, I don’t know.  When I hit send, I figured she’d laugh with me at my consternation that someone could see so much where I saw so little.

IMG_1383“Seen in 3 hours by an experienced birder.” Amen.

 What I got back from her stopped me in my tracks.  JZ  wrote to me in a matter of minutes, with a message that began, “Oh, this makes me so happy!”  Huh?  Not the reaction I was expecting.  Snark generally breeds more snark.  What was the meaning of this?

She went on to explain how the person who penned this list (and who, blessedly, signed his name to it) was a mentor of hers in her college days, more than three decades ago.  Once upon a time, when JZ was a lowly undergrad, wandering around in a favorite cemetery that also serves as a migrant songbird stopover, she happened upon a group of binocular-wielding women, all atwitter, and wondered what the fuss was about. Turns out, there was a vagrant Townsend’s warbler, blown off course from the west, that had wandered into an obliging Norway spruce tree nearby.  What JZ quickly learned was that the chief bird club biddie would point you in the direction of the visiting warbler, but only if you were a card-carrying member of their group.  If not, be on your way, no insider info proffered.

That was when my dear college friend, rebuffed and confused, came nearly immediately under the wing, literal and figurative, of this man—the guy who’s still at it, all these years later.  He saw her, realized what had happened, and took her to see that unlikely off-course specimen, bless his heart.  He also told her to pay those biddies no mind.  Pettiness had no place in his birding world, then as now.  Sharing with anyone who was interested most certainly did.  JZ learned that from him on Day One, and she’s been sharing that notion for her entire adult life.

 As has he, apparently.

 JZ wrote that I should find this Audubon zen master and make his acquaintance, letting him know that I’m a friend of hers.  I feel so entirely unworthy, I’m not sure I even dare.  But I do know that even at my lowly level, I adore more than anything showing a screech owl to someone who would have never noticed it.  I love handing my binos over to any passer-by who seems willing to take them and get a better view.  When I run into someone coming the other way round the reservoir, binos in hand, I make sure to tell them if I’ve seen something noteworthy, and where.  I can’t even imagine not wanting to help someone who cares about the birds, even the slightest little bit.  I know I’d be nowhere without JZ’s encouragement around figuring out what’s in my world, bird-wise.  And I suspect I’d still be in that snarky place, had she not told me this remarkable story.

So, thank you for that, dear JZ, and thank you, my reservoir birding master.  I’ll try to be better, do better, in the departments of increasing my waterfowl and migrant songbird knowledge, and reducing my sarcasm.

First on my list: I’m off to find a Swainson’s thrush.

IMG_1443Maybe in here…