Sunday, December 8, 2013

Deeper Than The Moment

The Bonaparte's Gull
In many ways, I have battled in this life with those social demons of societal "norms". My struggles and adventures have been shared with a few friends, but in all my years, I have done most of it alone and from the heart. No one made the rules for me because there weren't any.  People tried to give me their set of rules but they were based on fear and hurting others who were "different". Today it's much easier for our youth outside those "norms" to seek the help and advice they need.  And so allowing people into my life has always been a guarded and sacred thing.....for true emotion is not to be wasted on those who are careless and undeserving of the heart.

Friendships are made and kept over this life of mine because they are meaningful to me.  Even if we've all changed over time, I still treasure those bonds we created years ago. Friends, true friends, are much harder to find. They are like extended family.  People you can trust with your secrets.  They don't judge you, but they'll tell you the truth.  So while we may not always agree; we have respect for one another.

I am so lucky to have my other half Pat with me on this journey.  Pat has been my anchor during the good times and bad. But mostly they are wonderful.  So it wasn't like I was looking to develop another friend attachment.  All of it was quite accidental really. 

My life has changed now in a direction I least expected.  If you would have told me 10 or 20 years ago that I was to become a birder, I would have laughed.  Today I stand here at the edge of my own world spreading my wings because of my dear friend Kathie. There is no turning back now.  Every moment and experience has led me to this point in my life.  I must see the vanishing world.  I must see as much as I can before I die....or before it's gone.

Lewis's Woodpecker
I have found most of the common birds in Arizona and have discovered that my eyes are now digging hungrily deeper into the grasses and forests....uncovering even more birds that I had not seen before. Kathie and I have been a team for over a year.  And like any team working together with so much practice, we've become a dynamic duo.  We've honed in on our skills and learned to work like detectives finding elusive and hard to find birds.  And because of our love for birds and nature, we've put in many hundreds, if not a thousand or so, hours of field work together.

Broad-billed Hummingbird

People ask us if we have spouses.  Yes we do.  They join in on the fun when we're not birding together. But that doesn't stop us from texting or facebooking our latest finds while on the road away from each other.  Because of this constant communication, I found that I was developing that human bond known as friendship.

A nesting male Elegant Trogon

And now it's time for us to say good-bye.  When she first told me the news that they were leaving for the east coast, I had a human physical reaction known as crying:(  Like all friends and loved ones in life, they come and go. They are here and then they are gone....sometimes forever.  She taught me the protocols for being an excellent birder. Then she became my friend.  We can say that things won't change, but they do.  They have to change in order for us to grow.  And when she told me that they would be leaving very soon, I wasn't ready for the emotional meltdown that followed.  I hate human emotions. I especially hate expressing any emotion in front of people for I am a proud Scorpio.  If you have friends who are Scorpios, remember to give them shocking news by note or a text so that they can process their emotions in a quiet corner of the world away from people:)  I knew she'd be moving at some point (because that has been her life).  I just didn't think she'd be moving so quickly!

At Pinetop
But how does one go back to the same spaces and not think about the past?  A bittersweet thought. We've walked the canyons searching for the Elegant Trogon.  When we found him, we shared that special moment in silence under the dark skies of the dry river bed.  When we explored the rugged Box Canyon, the tire blew out and we changed it together making a stressful situation less....stressful.  At Florida Canyon, Kathie and I climbed a nasty rock spot where I blocked her from falling further down that terrible rock face. We climbed into the dark trees of Miller Canyon where Kathie found her first Mexican Spotted Owls. And we discovered that she was better at listening to directions than I was:) We spent a brief weekend camping up on Pinetop skirting a threatening and angry storm. Then we dodged falling rocks along the canyon walls as we hauled tail back to Tucson only to discover a magical space along the way near Winkelman called Christmas.  We watched thousands of Sandhill Cranes fly around us at the Whitewater Draw in the freezing temps. How do I go back to these places alone without thinking about those incredible times? So many incredible memories.

So when we stood one last time at the Whitewater Draw together watching the cranes call and fly around us, I couldn't think about the birds.  All I thought about was how much I'd miss my friend and how I'd miss sharing those epic moments together.  Change is exciting but saying good-bye is never easy.  And it will take time to adapt to her absence. But for now, in the way only a birder can do, I dedicate the Green-tailed Towhee as our official friendship bird.  It was the first incredibly strange bird I found with Kathie while on our first ever trek into Agua Caliente park.  Every time I see this bird on my walks, I will always think of that first awe inspiring moment with Kathie.

The Green-tailed Towhee
We'll bird again someday, but for now, I'm going to miss you....a lot.  Thank you for taking the time to show me what it is to be a good birder.  And thank you for your friendship. We've had the most amazing times and adventures.


  1. Really sorry to hear that such a dear friend is moving away. I have only ever really had one good friend, and he moved to the states 35 years ago. The really good ones never leave your mind though at least, and nowadays there is always email at least. Hang in there buddy.

  2. I was really surprised to hear Kathie was moving. I know you and Kathie have shared so many great birding times together. You have wonderful memories of Kathie and the great birds and outings. I wish there were more people around like Kathie, she sounds amazing!

  3. To smutne jak bliski przyjaciel nagle jest bardzo daleko od Ciebie. Tęskni się za nim i to bardzo, tym bardziej, że łączyła Was wspólna pasja. Pozdrawiam.
    It's sad how a close friend suddenly is very far from you. He longs for him, and it's very, the more that you shared passion combined. Yours.

  4. Merveilleux reportage! j'adore!
    Très belles photos, nice post!
    Have a nice sunday!

  5. blessings to kathie in the next phase of her life...

  6. Kathie is an amazing friend, one who will be there for you no matter where she is located. She has taught me so much about expanding my wings and finding passion in doing the things I love. I can relate to what you say about being a Scorpio. No doubt you will miss her very much, just as she will miss you as your friendship is so dear to her. Just think of her moving as an opportunity to bird the east coast.

  7. A very beautiful tribute to your friend Chris. I had to make a tough move in 2010 leaving friends behind. I am sure Kathie will miss her friend Chris just as much as you will miss her.

  8. So blessed are you to have a friend so wonderful. Sad, but you two will find a way to keep the connection.

  9. Hi Chris, your captures are beautiful. I love that first shot.

    Parting with Kathie is sad but hopefully you will find a new birding buddy quickly.

  10. You and Kathie have shared a very special friendship and then both have shared some of that on your blogs, so we've been able to share in it a little as well. It will change now, but at least you will be able to keep in touch and share your special birding moments and triumphs.

  11. Through the tears I write to both of you, and many others, who have found such special friendship. A precious gift not to be forgotten yet allowed to soar.

  12. Oh Chris I am so sorry to hear that Kathie is moving away and so suddenly. Your post is a wonderful tribute to her, your friendship and the times you shared.

    Its not often that we find such a special friend and I am sure she will miss you as much as you miss her. I do hope its not too long before you get chance to go birding with her again - perhaps on the east coast.

    Thinking of you. Best wishes Caroline

  13. Chris, reading your post brought back the tears that I had pouring down my face when she first told me too. As a fellow Scorpio I have been hiding in that same dark corner, dealing with my sadness. It certainly will be a very unhappy day when Kathie heads off to Maine but we are indeed blessed to be able to call her friend.

  14. Chris, I am so touched by reading this! You are such a good and dear friend. I will NEVER forget you and you will always live in my heart. I had no idea when we met that this would develop into such a deep and lasting friendship. I am sorry it took me so long to read this post but the timing is perfect for Christmas. You already know how much I love you! thank you for this and for the gift of your friendship. This journey is no over is just changing!

    I look forward to many more birding adventures! Thank goodness for our blogs and facebook and text messages! I can't wait to show you New England!

  15. Okay, I just read everyone else's comments and now I am crying too! thank you everyone for your kind thoughts, comments and good wishes!

    Celeste, Chris and Kathryn, you know I love you all! You are my circle of Scorpios surrounding, supporting and protecting me!


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