|My nephew stares at me for the first time wondering who I am. He's such a cutie! I'm not a baby person but this kid is awesome!|
|The Woodland Dunes|
Difficult birds to photograph in Arizona were easily photographed in Wisconsin.
|Northern Rough-winged Swallow|
We stop for photos and I get attacked by Horse Flies, Deer Flies, and Sand Flies. And of course, the mosquitoes. If that wasn't enough, a tick climbs my leg! Paranoia sets in....Zika Virus, Lyme's Disease, and the Bird Flu enter my mind:) It sucks having Type A- blood:) Studies have found that the mosquitoes prefer type O blood, followed by type A and then B.
The magical greens of a dark forest hinder the photography at times. I remember exploring most of it as a child. But somewhere along the way we get lost. And that's okay. I am so spacey sometimes:) Instead of paying attention to the directions, I'm following the bird song. That's how I get lost. Gordon and Kathie can attest to that part:)
|Fledgling White-breasted Nuthatch|
|Female American Redstart|
It was nice to be home with my family. It was great having Gordon along to bird. During my time in Wisconsin, I thought often about the direction of my life. And I remember why I left so many years ago. I have a lot of admiration for the people who live there. It hasn't been easy for many of them with all the factory work moving to other countries or states. The recession is still alive in parts of the US. And unfortunately, my town is still recovering. Change is slow because tradition and memory are cherished in these parts. That's why I call it my Shire. It is unique from the rest of the US where family names and local businesses still matter. My brother Adam put it best during a campfire while talking about the state of the local job market. "Dad, I don't want to move anywhere. I like living here." He's right. It's a beautiful place to call home.
As the ancient ones pass on, old great homes become vacant. Some are purchased by people wanting summer homes. Many homes are now owned by out-of-state residents. Adam's neighbors are from California and Missouri. My parents have neighbors from Washington DC. Poverty and drugs have infiltrated the community from large cities like Milwaukee and Chicago. Police now fight a hopeless battle against a developing "drug corridor". Giant corporation farms are trying to take over private farm lands. And many of these private farmers are barely making it. All of this has challenged the small town existence of today's America.
Like a baby bird leaving the nest for the first time, I was frightened(and excited!) by the great big world out there. All I had to do was jump from my "nest" and make that leap of faith. I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today without the love and support of my family. And my community. I wish I could pass on the joy I feel to those who suffer from the "dark cloud" syndrome. But I can't. For many, alcoholism and drugs have become their escape. I had to learn how to leave that negativity campaign years ago. And I still have my days....especially with my profession. It's never easy, but I do know this. It's better to wake up looking forward to life than just existing.
For 5 years now, I have found the faith known as "birding". It is something that I find most sacred. The members of this group are some of the best people I have ever met. Their wanderlust, intelligence and curiosity have fed my own desires to know more. No negativity. Just a passion for our planet and the life force that surrounds us. It took me awhile to find them. But I am so glad that I have. There is so much to live for. There is so much to fight for. And there is so much to discover. On my 5th anniversary as a birder, it has become my life journey. Until next time.......