This weekend will go down in my personal history book as one of the longest, hardest of my life.
I had some programs scheduled way over on the other side of Ohio, in Portsmouth. Being so close to West Virginia, I thought I would sneak over the border and see some birds...and recapture the magic I found there at the New River Bird and Nature Festival. That week in WV changed me in a very visceral way and I wanted to feel it again, that thrill of the mountains.
But it wasn't the same. I missed my people.
I wanted Lynne beside me, crying for joy at her first sight of a Cerulean Warbler.
I wanted Mary and Nina there to get fantastic photos and share them with me.
I wanted Kathi to ID the birds singing outside and sit back with me to open a bottle of wine.
I wanted Kathie to light up at the sight of yet another eastern US lifer.
I wanted Jane there to give me that sweet smile and tell me to Embrace My Inner Sheep.
I wanted Tim to entice me to join him in the hot tub.
I wanted to look at Beth and cause her to break into fits of helpless laughter.
I wanted to sit out on the porch swing with Laura and whisper secrets into the night air.
I was a lonely member of a Flock who had not made the journey with me. NOT the same...
It was raining as I got into Fayetteville. Big surprise.
I got a picture of the bridge I had been so afraid of...
...and smiled at the rhododendron in bloom:
Found a tiny perfect pink mushroom.
The birds were quieter than they had been in late April. Breeding is slowing, and the migrants have passed. Oh, well.
Before I left for the trip, I emailed Geoff Heeter (check this post...Geoff is the one shouting, "I like to DANCE!") and asked if he and his family would like a private raptor show, since I was in the area. He loved the idea, so I was welcomed into his lovely home and did a program for him, his charming wife, his kids, the neighborhood kids, the parents of the neighborhood kids....right in Geoff's kitchen. It was fun and relaxed, and the kids loved it.
I was able to meet Geoff's chickens...one of them here being held by Geoff's daughter:
And I don't know what Geoff is feeding these chickens, but they have reached gigantic proportions:
Look out, little girl! That chicken looks hungry!
The impromptu program for Geoff's family was the highlight of the trip. I spent all day today driving back home. Five hours in the car.
Unhappy birds in the back (they had been living in their carriers for 2 days, and that just makes them cranky...and Lucy wouldn't eat at all...I was a wreck) and a sore neck and the melancholy of leaving West Virginia somehow unclaimed.
I went there looking for something, and I couldn't find it. I left with a special sadness in my heart.
After stopping at the house to pick up my family to go get the other car from the shop, I then drove the birds back to RAPTOR.
Then it was off to Indiana, to my niece's graduation party.
I miss Indiana and the parties that are to be had.
Some things you can find there:
Manly games of Cornhole, played here on a "Breast Cancer Awareness" board:
You have to live west of Vine Street (that's the dividing line in Cincinnati that tells you if you are a "West Sider" or one of those uppity "East Siders") to play Cornhole.
I think some uppity East Siders are picking up the game, I guess when they want to come off their high horses and try to act like common folk.
(I live on the East side of Cincinnati, but since I grew up in Indiana, I am forgiven and allowed to cross the state line)
The food at a party in southeastern Indiana is delicious and truly horrible for you, hence the appeal:
Side dishes like Skyline Dip, Seven-Layer Salad, Fritos with everything, and the most Heavenly Bar-B-Que Chicken Dip you have ever tasted. It comes with a HazMat warning.
Who the Hell brought vegetables?????
And the only way to cook your food is with large...no, make that massive....amounts of OIL (lard if you are feeling extra naughty):
Everything has to be deep-fried. (Look, Laura! A cooking barrel!)
Fried chicken...and French Fries and also fried pickles and fried Twinkies. Seriously.
For those of you who aren't privy to the ways of Indiana...like I said to someone this weekend, "We may be part of the North, but we ain't YANKEES."
You need something cold and delicious to wash down all that grease, and that's where this contraption comes in:
An invention of my brother's....a refrigerator that has a beer tap right on the side:
You need to have this Oh-So-Cool fridge, because you need to be able to put your HALF-BARREL somewhere:
Yes. A half-barrel. Not a KEG...a HALF-BARREL.
There were three half-barrels at the party today...and when I left, they were down to one.
Bright, Indiana has its own gang sign.
I could tell you what it means, but then I'd hafta kill ya.