This is a difficult column to write. Traditionally, one’s retirement is a reason to celebrate. I don’t really feel like celebrating, but maybe that will come, little by little. This will be my last column concerning birds and birdwatchers. After 50 years (Dec. 6, 1967), I have decided to meet my last weekly deadline. That is a reason for celebration, especially when I am traveling. Writing several columns to cover the time I am away from the desk, won’t be missed.
I will miss my readers. If, when this column first ran, I had any idea of all the letters and later, emails, it would generate, I would have saved them. It’s the readers who are responsible for the column’s long life. Your questions and the friendly letters that crossed my desk helped me make all those deadlines. Your thoughts and input were often responsible for the column’s subject that week. Many of your questions meant some serious research on my part. We both learned new things as a result of that research.
I won’t miss the birds. They will always be part of my life. The feeders and bird bath will still be in place near the kitchen windows. I expect there will be those days when something happens in the yard and I realize I can’t share it with you. That will be difficult. There have been many times when a column’s subject brought reports from readers experiencing the same thing. Now, I won’t know who sees the first rufous hummingbird this spring. There won’t be questions about “crazy birds” attacking windows.
When this column first appeared, I had no idea of how it would affect our family. It took us throughout this country and around the world. There were friends we met along the way and some very interesting people. Back in the ’80s, I was asked to serve on the Department of Wildlife’s Nongame Advisory Council. That was just plain fun. Yes, we had our council meetings to discuss the agency’s day-to-day activities, but we also became involved with their future plans. We journeyed all over this state and were introduced to the department’s work concerning this state’s wildlife, primarily nongame or non-hunted wildlife. Yes, I found life birds on those field trips. The first to come to mind is the mountain quail. One of the other members on the council had to fill me in on how he once hunted this elusive bird.
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I still keep in touch with birders from England who can only be classed as, “world birders.” Tom and Julia and their family are close friends. Maybe I will visit them once more in retirement. Other birders came into our lives and we visited back and forth while enjoying birding in each other’s back yards. From Maine to Maryland and from Alaska’s Pribilof Islands to Ecuador’s Galapagos, we shared some exciting birding.
This love of travel and making new friends has become imbedded in the lives of our children and grandchildren as well. I have no answer for the grandson who recently asked, “Grandma, didn’t your parents ever worry about places you traveled to?” I had just warned him about being “very careful” on his next trip and he turned the tables on me.
This final column could ramble on and on and on. Perusing my files and reading old journals brought on a flood of memories. They made it crystal clear that all those deadlines were worth it.