Sunday, December 30, 2018

Las Aventuras: Bookends

One of my favorite moments from this year in the grasslands as Pronghorn come to get a sip
As a person who has blogged for about 8 years, I have seen myself transform into many things.  Over the years so much has happened.  There has been so much change. I began as an amateur gardener and photographer.  I am none of those things anymore. I miss that carefree me, but I love that I am more certain of the work I do now. With certainty comes calculation and focused study. 

a very cold Red Fox in Maine
As I have begun branching out into the world birding arena, I have experienced frustration, joy, excitement, fear and anxiety.  This was the year I'd learn to leave my comfort zone, challenge my fears and face the changes that are happening around this world. 

watching youth get excited about birds in the Caroni Wetlands of Trinidad was a hopeful moment
For me, Trinidad was a wonderful exploration into a world of beauty and the unknown. This was a culture I was unfamiliar with and it was out of my comfort zone. Just when I thought I was free of all the child learned fears I had been taught; I discovered they were still there inside.  And when unleashed, I found myself out-of-control in the middle of a rain forest panicking.  It turns out that I was my own worst enemy.  Everything had been fine really, but I had unwittingly caused my own torture.  Afterwards I was embarrassed by my outburst. Thankfully, a kind man told me to take a deep breath and that it would be ok. While people spoke English on the island, I didn't speak their English and it took time to understand. I've traveled and lived all over the world and this was a first for me. 

the guide means well but this capuchin was not having it.  He was throwing branches at us to let us know to stay away. This wasn't the first encounter I've had with this species.  Once I had a mango thrown at my head on Coiba Island!
But not all things were a fiction of my mind. Over the years, my experience anywhere has told me to be cautious. I experienced a drive-by-shooting and heard daily stories of people having their throats slit at random which included my host's cousin while I was there. To make things worse, I was near a church where the daily funerals happened.  Was this really what it was like for a Trinidadian every day? Like everyone else, I learned to lock myself indoors at night and tread lightly during the day alone with my hidden camera gear. A dog barking at night scared me but a dog on the property made me feel safer. With 3 dead bolts on my door, I knew not to answer my door after sunset. Most of all, I learned what frustrated locals were suffering at home on a daily basis. Crime, like drug trafficking, happened anytime and everywhere. It was exhausting to be vigilant at all moments.  Thankfully, Asa Wright brought me comfort while I was there.  I could bird freely without worries. But outside of the property lines, it was a whole different world.  

My amazing room at the Asa Wright Center.  I loved it!
The Asa Wright Center was magical and safe. Locals and tourists joined together here and had dinners. It is a very special place. I met some incredible people who made my experience on the island amazing. And I am thankful for their friendships. 

The Scarlet Ibis were one of the many Trinidadian Highlights
Even after everything I have written, Trinidad was one of my favorite trips this year.  It was here that I learned how to cook again in the kitchen.  It had always been there, but I had gotten lazy in the US. Being on a budget forced me to cook and it brought me joy. 

Fresh produce markets inspire and I become inspired back home and find my own way of getting fresh produce.
When I rented my apartment outside of the Asa Wright Center, I went shopping daily for fresh vegetables. Now because of Trinidad, I eat fresh food every week and am naturally losing weight because of a healthier diet. 

The amazing Oilbirds of Asa Wright!
After a near month in Trinidad, Micheal and I headed over to Maui for a relaxing vacation. And while Hawaii was also magical, I came face-to-face with humanity's need to destroy and replace. It was incredibly beautiful and sad at the same time.  I felt hopelessness on a couple of these islands as the endemic birds face the uphill battle of global warming and mosquito infection/malaria.  So when I found my endemic lifers, I didn't feel joy. I felt this huge empty sadness and anger.  

the 'Apapane is one good looking Hawaiian endemic!
Leaving my Tucson world of birds was a good thing. Developing global views of the birding world outside my comfort zone gives me a deeper understanding of this planet. Every step I make outside of my comfort zone brings me one step closer to enlightenment. For all the good that this world does, it's also outweighed by more habitat destruction and population growth.  And that weighs heavily on me. That carefree birder I knew only a few years back is gone.  I'm not quite jaded yet but I am not as naive as I once was. 

a security detail goes ahead of me as we count birds like Red Warblers in this private sector of Malinche
On a special trek, I had a security detail come with me to bird an off limits area of the Malinche volcano in Puebla. It was such an honor to be able to bird this area and also add invaluable ebird information to this private forested sector of the volcano.  A special thank you to my host sister for arranging this incredible day of "work". 

I do research in the local gardens around Tlaxcala and find a migrating Nashville Warbler
The drug wars are on the rise again.  The issues in Venezuela, Mexico, Trinidad and other areas are real. The US is the major reason for this bloody war south of our border.  Travel in these areas can be tricky.  I really wanted to see an amazing sparrow found outside of Mexico City.  The bird is endangered and found in a very sketchy area. For the first time since becoming a birder, I hired a guide to help me access this area safely.  We were right on the border of a drug route and it required the "safety in numbers" rule. It was an amazing day out but it made me upset.  This isn't the Mexico I grew up to love. Tlaxcala, one of the safest states in the country, has now experienced some crime.  My friend and sister told me that Tlaxcala used to be safe.  I remembered those times fondly.  At a dinner, she warned me to be careful with my equipment.  "Guero, things are not the same.  People are now getting robbed in daylight. Be careful." But while I was there, I was the giant with all smiles because I genuinely feel my happiest there. If there were no borders, I'd own a home in this beautiful little village.  I love the people.  I love the culture.  And I feel at home. I could take people on bird walks here and they'd have fun.  For the most part, it's really a safe state to explore!

Happy and fresh produce with Delfina!  She makes my favorite cream of pea soup!
However, when someone says to me that bird watching is fun, I get a little irritated. Yes it can be fun, but it's called birding and it requires a lot of strategic savvy.  And quite a bit of it is NOT easy. I've spent hours upon hours researching all these places organizing the work.  

We discover the southern most range of Evening Grosbeaks in central Mexico and it blows my mind away!
And if there is one connection to everything else about this blog post, it's that Tucson has witnessed a rise in crime. It's not just happening everywhere else. It's also happening in our backyards! My neighborhood has seen an uptick in homeless people and theft. Why?  Drugs, like meth, are out-of-control. It has forced my hand to upgrade security measures on our place in midtown Tucson.  So I budgeted in $$ for a better car and a new secured patio which then cut into this year's birding budget.  All of it is good. But one has to go with the ebb and flow of things.  There are no short cuts in this life. Safety and security are important things.  From plenty of past experience with our crazy criminal neighbor and theft in the neighborhood, I can tell you that the police are not reliable in this city.  So we have to fend for ourselves most of the time.

Black-legged Kittiwake in Glendale, AZ!!!  Worthy of a state chase!
Stepping aside from the human condition, I'll now show you some of the rewards and highlights from these incredible treks and why I would go lengths to see these birds. I began my year with my lifer Black-legged Kittiwake in Maine with friend Kathie Brown. It was cold outside and simple.  I knew that it would be the most relaxing and stress free bird outing of the year.  I felt a calm before the storm, even though we were birding from within the historical cyclone bomb of Maine! The blizzard was the most peaceful thing I had felt this year because for one glorious moment, I forgot about the orange clown who is ruining my country, the attacks on public school teachers and the undoing of environmental protections. While I traveled throughout this year, I went on a major teacher strike to save our public schools,did some guiding to make up for the loss of my work paychecks, sold some of my photography and had several articles published in magazines. The birding kept me sane!  We did some amazing fund raising for Tucson Audubon.  And at the end, I added a rare Black-legged Kittiwake to my Arizona state list.  It was a fitting way to end my 2018 birding year. 

Here's the thing.  Birding in Arizona is pretty epic.  If you're a birder looking for a great place to live, I highly recommend this state.  I mean LOOK^^^at these crazy birds!  A little Mexico, east coast and California coastal stuff going on here!  Plus a first record of a Ringed Kingfisher!!  I took some of these pics, like the Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Short-eared Owl and Slate-throated Redstart, in other areas because they were difficult to get pics of......the Ferrug, I didn't want to disturb because they are skittish. 
In Arizona, I added 18 new bird species to my state list.  In Pima county, I added 11 new birds. And for my life list, I added 120 new life birds. 

This is just some of them!
This post is dedicated to Barb Padgett and Bernie Brouchoud who passed away this year.  Barb was a supporter of Tucson Audubon and the Magee Marsh.  This year, Kathie and I plan to honor her by visiting her bench in Ohio. Barb was always there for me and donated money to my fundraising events.  Plus she was a fellow Trekkie.  I mean a really really good Star Trek fan!  We shared in lots of discussions. My only wish is to find her a Yellow-headed Blackbird for her memorial.  She never saw one and joked that I made them up. I'm sorry Barb that we never met in person but I am thankful for our fun discussions.

And Bernie was a guy I knew growing up.  He was vital in the creation of Woodland Dunes.  I knew I was on nature's side when I heard a council member, who I knew well, speak of building lots of factories in Bernie's established Woodland Dunes.  I didn't agree with the guy then and kept my mouth shut because I supposedly didn't know anything. I was a stupid kid. Secretly, I hoped Bernie would win and protect this land that I used as my playground.  I knew the forests well around that area. We had forts. We knew where the deer hid. Monarchs and snails and birds loved this little woods. Then one day, my playground forest and her little winding creek were wiped out and buried for "progress". I was stunned by the emptiness.  It was GONE! Bernie's land was next to "mine" and in jeopardy but thankfully Bernie won. And those factories?  Yeah, most of them are empty buildings now because the jobs went elsewhere. We wiped out a creek and a woods for nothing.  But for all the fights, Bernie won against the establishment and today Woodland Dunes is one of our finest landmarks. Thank you Bernie and Barb for your contributions to the important preservation of this planet. 

I'll always cherish this moment.  I helped Bernie get his last North American warbler, the Hermit Warbler  I was able to properly say good-bye to him.  It was a very special day for both dad and his son.  And it meant the world to me. It seems like just yesterday that he was here. Time flies by so quickly. Bernie taught me so many things as a kid AND adult about birds.  I won't forget his lessons. 
What can I say about 2018? The more I experience with the birds; the more I know.  Birds bring people together.  Birds make us see things that are happening around us.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Sometimes I feel like I'm becoming a bird.  I want to be outdoors all the time and not caged up inside a room. In November, I had a hard time piecing together a general outline for birding next year. Today, I am happy to say that I have several projects lined up for 2019 that will take me into the summer.  I had to juggle a tighter budget for this next year which made things a challenge. However, it's going to be an exciting ride!

I'm wishing you all a wonderful new year! I think January will mark a new milestone for this blog as we hit a million views.  Thank you for following and being a part of the weekly adventures! 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Her Maiden Voyage

Black Rosy-Finch
With one semester completely and successfully finished, it was time to get back on the road again.  During our holiday luncheon, all I could think about was the break.  And the birds. 

Good people working together to help enrich the lives of young people. It's never easy keeping a smile but break gives us that much needed downtime to recharge our batteries. 
Now that the holidays are here, CBC(Christmas Bird Count) counts are happening all over the country. I mentioned to you all last weekend that I was supposed to do a count up on Mt. Lemmon for our local CBC.  Unfortunately, my car of 10 years had other ideas and her power steering went out early in the morning.  I promptly cancelled my participation and spent the day buying a new vehicle.  Ah the joys of new car payments!  She's a white SUV that goes by the name of Betty White.  Her code name is Manakin.  

a wintering Greater Pewee in Reid Park continues
Feeling bad about my failed CBC count on Mt. Lemmon, I helped with the Tucson count at my local patch.  Then it was off for some amazing Arizona birds!

The USS Betty White made her maiden voyage up to the northern boundaries of the state just outside of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to search for 2 new Arizona birds, the Black and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches.  It was a 2-for-one journey with friends Gordon Karre and Barb Meding.  

Just part of one of the flocks that zipped up and down.  They reminded us of our wintering lonspurs in the grasslands
For several years, I've always gone with Gordon in his vehicle because my car wasn't big enough to carry all of our equipment.  I should note that I purchased that car before I was a birder.  And I'm not one to sell it off because it didn't fit my needs right away.  She was a good car.  The Bea Arthur was a reliable vehicle that gave me many years of joy. 

A birder has to be careful observing birds.  With this location, I had a little vertigo.  The hillside was quite steep!
I was sad to let her go. Why name the vehicle?  I don't know.  It's what I've always done.  Plus I love/d what Bea Arthur and Betty White stand/stood for in their lives.  Not only are/were they great actresses, but Bea served in the military as a young person. And Betty White continues to be a champion for animals.  Barb thought she had passed and I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  Betty is a national treasure! She is immortal!

The very tricky Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch was a skulker for us and did not like to pose on the ground for the camera so I had to catch it in flight.   Fish or bird?  You tell me. 
Anyhow, it was so much fun.  And I was a proud driver taking my friends up to the top of the Echo Cliffs searching for these beautiful birds.  I felt like an adult!  I laughed when Gordon spilled black coffee over my place mat.  Having been an owner before of a new vehicle, I laugh at those first "oh no's!"  The first ding, the first spill, the first scratch etc.  At what point, do we let that OCD nature go?  With Bea, it was after a pork green chile incident that leaked out into my seat(and stained it forever!) because my friend didn't cap her tupperware container properly.  And then it happened again when a friend was backing out and rubbed against my car giving it a "cute" little dent.  So now, I'm a little more relaxed with everything.  Just no dents, dings or scratches on Betty for awhile please:)

A nice side-by-side comparison of the two species. They are similar and were tricky to pick apart. 
It was an incredible morning out.  Not only was the landscape gorgeous, but so were the birds!  Rosy-Finches in Arizona are a treat!  The challenging part was picking out the one Gray-crowned in the bunch.  They can look similar together. 

There were 2 large flocks that would rotate in and out of the area we were standing.  I think we got to observe both flocks twice with a 5 minute interval between their visits. I'd move once they flew to a new spot to get different angles of the birds.  

They feed from the Russian Thistle on the hillsides.  But to keep these beautiful birds there for birders to observe, people are continually throwing oilseed sunflower seeds to keep them around a little longer.  These birds love cliffs and as you can imagine, they can make it difficult for birders to get a good view.  So we employ our own tactics that keep them around a little longer.  

What a thrill to see these birds up close!  My first time was also with Gordon during our Sandia Crest journey to New Mexico.  In fact, that's where most people go to see all three species.  While we are in the southern most range for Black Rosy-Finches, they are not commonly seen like this for birders.  There's usually a once-a-year sighting by a couple birders.  However, a Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch is RARE!  Their range is the largest of all the Rosy-Finches but it doesn't dip quite down into AZ. However, they are suspected to enter the state in areas that are difficult to reach for birders. With that said, there are a few historical records including one from 2013 in a remote area of the state. The area we visited was much more accessible!

After we had that amazing observation, we went for the California Condors of Marble Canyon on the Navajo Bridge. I wanted to see the rare wild born California Condor in the area!  There was a Condor volunteer there monitoring the four birds in the canyon.  With his scope, he pointed it in the direction of the wild born bird and I was super excited!  It made me so happy.  I love condors.  Their location is also quite beautiful. And seeing a wild born one on the cliffs and not from a zoo gives me hope. As long as hunters use lead bullets, these birds will have to be monitored for lead poisoning.  Hunting for food is fine, but it's gross to think of lead in your own food.  Why not use copper bullets if you like to kill things for pleasure?  The Condors eat the lead filled carcasses left behind by the hunters.  There are 3 major threats to Condors.  1. Lead poisoning  2. Golden Eagles/Coyotes 3. Telephone Wires

Then, in a random twist for our trek back home, we took a ride to Winslow, Arizona where we had to take it easy.  

The USS Betty White promises many more treks.  Our next trek will take us into California but until then, I wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.  Until next time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Final Exams and Birds

Lewis's Woodpecker
During my final exam period, I find it hard to go birding with all the grading I have to do.  I force myself to go out and keep up with the challenges even though I've seen most of Arizona's birds many times. I'd rather sleep. I do it because when spring comes, I'm often asked to guide.  And it's good to keep fresh with our key species here like the Rufous-capped Warblers, Black-capped Gnatcatchers, Red-faced and Olive Warblers, etc. 

Arizona has large pecan groves and during the winter, it's always a good idea to check these trees for not only the Lewis's Woodpeckers but other species as well like the Red-breasted Sapsucker. Some of these groves are on private property and others grow in city parks or abandoned lots.  

Savannah Sparrow
It was a good weekend out.  The sparrows are back again and I enjoy sorting through all of them during my counts.  And of course, the month of December always seems to be a banner month for wintering Lawrence's Goldfinches as they feed from the seed heads of a particular grass that grows here. I couldn't believe the numbers at each of the stops we made!

Lawrence's Goldfinches
On Saturday, I went out with Micheal to the town of Patagonia to bird the Patagonia-Sonoita Nature Conservancy and look for the reported Carolina Wren. We didn't see it but I get a sense that it's probably the same bird who showed up early this year at Patagonia Lake State.  We had a nice hike and found lots of great birds, mammals and a male tarantula below. 

We laughed at the antics of the juvenile Coue's Whitetail Deer as they jumped around in the fields chasing one another.  In total, we counted around 36 deer!  Apparently, there are many many more.  I sat at the end of our walk on a bench speaking with the volunteer.  According to Micheal, we spoke for over an hour about birds.  How does that even happen?  I felt bad so I treated him to dinner.  I could have camped there that night.  It was so beautiful.  

Coue's Whitetail Deer
While on the trails there, I heard the distinct electronic sliding "ZEET!" call of the Black-capped Gnatcatchers. So I began taking pics for photo documentation to submit to the report.  When I got home, I discovered a Blue-gray had slipped into the middle of my Black-capped Gnatcatchers just to meddle with my ID abilities.  These can be extremely difficult birds to ID.  Thankfully I had pics of both species.  When documenting this "rare(but growing)" population of Black-capped Gnatcatchers, it's important to ID 4 key items.  The important part is to see the under tail of this species for the white pattern.  A long narrow bill is helpful but not always easy to figure out when the bird is alone.  There is also a brownish tone to the back of these birds in winter. Lastly, their call is distinct.  If you have audio equipment, try to record their call for your ebird report. But if the bird is silent, make sure you ID that under tail. It's always easy when you spot a male in summer with a black cap and an almost all white under tail. 

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
We finished up our trek to Patagonia successfully.  Then Sunday arrived.  I hung out with my friend Hollie to bird around her area in Green Valley.  We had a blast exploring new areas that are now open for birders to explore. It was a crazy day full of rare birds. To make the day even better, it was cold and foggy!

Daylight forces me to be smart about where I bird.  Sometimes all I can do is bird my local patch. 

drake Canvasback
After work, I rush over to Reid Park to do my weekly bird count.  It rarely disappoints. 

When you're a drake Wood Duck, it's hard not to be conspicuous
As I finish up with grades, I am also planning for 3 upcoming treks over the next several weeks.  Some of these treks are for specific birds.  We'll be road tripping back into California for possibly the last time as we search for the Yellow-billed Magpie and Mountain Quail.  That's all I have left for species on land in Cali. I lived in the Bay area once and I remember observing the Yellow-billed Magpies often, but I glanced at them.  And I wasn't a birder.  So we're going to make it official and fun in the process. 

Neotropic Cormorant

There are other birds that are like that for me in the US.  I call them "clean up" birds because they live in out-of-the-way areas that often require special trips due to their range restrictions. 

The Big Feet of an American Coot
Finally, I'd like to address something that has bothered me over the past several weeks.  The birder's club is just like any kind of human social group. It has good members and a few naughty ones.  Often I love my birder peeps, but there are some that break the rules and ruin it for everyone.  I dropped off the AZ Listserv after I kept getting emails from every Tom, Dick and Henrietta about reporting owls.  It got annoying.  Before that, I was irritated by birders who don't follow land rules and trespass. If you're reading this, I'm preaching to the choir.  Apparently, I'm not the only one.  The Green Valley Water Treatment Plant must have also been annoyed because it took time to create this monstrosity of a sign.  Birding continues to grow and with it, we must all teach the newbies the rules. Or we lose important places to bird, not bird watch:) "Bird Watchers" made me laugh.  We are birders.  When someone says bird watcher, I think of robin strokers which is not birding.  Bird watching is like sitting at your window and not knowing what you're seeing.  You just like the birds. And that's ok. I will even admit that I bird watch from my dining room window. Birding is a whole lot of "work"!

Ok.  I'm off my soap box now.  Final exams are notorious for making teachers grouchy.  Teenagers are sneaky.  Soon, I'll be able to finish up my grades and fully commit to travel again.  Next week we join my one and only CBC for this year up on Mt. Lemmon. I'm hoping we have some cool weather with some cool birds.  Until next time......

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Grassland Sea

Red-tailed Hawk
If the Santa Ritas Mountains are part of the sky islands of Southern Arizona, then the surrounding habitat would be considered the "shore" followed by a sea of grassland.  I love the Santa Rita Mountains, but I love the habitat that surrounds this mountain just slightly more.  

Particularly the grasslands. And specifically, the winter grasslands.  This is a special time of year when beautiful wintering grassland species show up.  And sometimes, a special visitor, or two, shows up for several months. 

The Gray Ghost, or male Northern Harrier, flies over the Cienegas Grasslands
Between numerous Northern Harriers and different morphs and subspecies of Red-tailed Hawks.......

a rare Rough-legged Hawk
And among the countless meadowlarks, sparrows and longspurs, hide a few goodies like the Baird's Sparrow, Short-eared Owl and sometimes.....a Rough-legged Hawk.  Southern Arizona can be hit or miss with this species each year.  But this year, there were TWO in the same general area of Sonoita flying between Santa Cruz and Pima counties. Friendly Pima birder man, Brian Nicholson found one of them hanging out on Pima county lands. 

There were several birders there who needed this lifer.  The road was busy and tricky.  Every bird was a Rough-legged Hawk until it wasn't.  Northern Harriers.  So I clued them in on the behaviors of the bird.  "Look for kiting".  It's either a White-tailed Kite or not.  And if it's not, it's the Rough-legged Hawk.  As a sign from the bird gods, a hawk flew over our heads and began to hover and kite for all to see.  Then off it went up into the thermals far far away from us over into Pima County lands. 

Black Phoebe
With one mission complete, I stopped at the iconic Sonoita gas station to purchase yet another pair of sun glasses.  I lose them all the time.  

A classic and scenic gas station in Sonoita makes for a great meeting place
Then it was off to Patagonia for some relaxing birding.  This weekend was a "just me" weekend but it didn't turn out that way. It's good to be connected to the community and I enjoyed the company. There was lots of talking and meeting new people.  It's easy to do when people have the bird spark. The teacher gene is like a magnet to people and I like it because people are really interested in the habitat and birds. If I don't have anything going on, I take the time and get to know the people on the trails if they are interested in conversation.  Sometimes, I disappear into obscure places but since this rare hawk attracted all the chasers, I waited a bit for them to see the hawk and disappear.  They like to tick birds off the list and are very competitive with each other. I don't like it. So I waited. The afternoon crowd is more my style.  They want to observe behaviors and enjoy longer sustained looks at the raptors in the area. While they were there for the Rough-legged Hawk; they were also there to explore and see some cool stuff.  And that's a beautiful thing. 

A Sharp-shinned Hawk
I went to Patagonia to finish off my day in the most beautiful weather ever.  I thought I'd have alone time there, but there was a birder who asked for help ID'ing a vireo.  It was a Hutton's.  While there, we had a rare appearance of a Chihuahan Raven.  Over the years, I've gotten really good with this species.  They are not common in Patagonia, but a few do show up from time to time.  Their vocalizations are different from that of the Common Raven and when they call, it's an ID snap.  If they don't call, it can be SUPER tricky.  Thankfully most ravens are talkative in flight.  The high "haw haw haw" of the bird stood out among all the Common Ravens.  I had a birder play the call to learn the call.  The raven responded and flew near us on top of an Aleppo Pine.  Total bird nerds geeking out.  

Cedar Waxwing
I am enjoying this lull before things start picking up again.  We'll be traveling to the west coast this winter, Wales in March, a road trek with Gordon in April, June with Ms. Kathie Brown in Wisconsin, July in New Zealand, Maine in October......and December, I've left open to be spontaneous.  Life is amazing and this is how it flies by so quickly! This blog is all about exploration and discovery. Until next time....

This weeks haul from the POWWOW in Tucson.  12 dollars for 70 pounds.  Much of this will be shared to other families. This program helps eliminate food waste on this planet.  We throw away such wonderful produce.  For 12 bucks every weekend, you are guaranteed fresh veggies every week.  And you're helping the planet.  And sharing helps spread the love.