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Happy Birthday, Phoebe!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

An auspicious day: Phoebe's tenth birthday. Today, I will shepherd five kids on bikes along Marietta's fab new bike trail, ending up at the Aquatic Center, where I will screw up my courage to go down the big slide while not allowing any of them to drown. I will bake an angelfood cake and wrap presents all morning, then load up the bikes, presents, plates, beverages and said angelfood cake and head for town. Lord, help me do this well. Just one of the times when I miss Bill's help and presence.
The best present of all arrived via e-mail. Bill made it to South Africa safely. We suffered mightily all day yesterday; he was supposed to get in at dawn Monday, and as of midnight we still had heard nothing. I had no itinerary, no contact numbers, no nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Along about dinnertime I started rattling cages, called my good friend Clay Taylor, (Swarovski's birding field rep), who rattled the right ones, and finally received word from Swarovski Optik in Austria that the trip participants had arrived safely and were busily digiscoping. Whewwwww. I got that message at dawn this morning. Not knowing whether your love is safe and sound is nooo fun. Knowing that he is, life can go on. I felt like I'd been hooked back up to a heart-lung machine. Latest word: Bill's already gotten many lifers and seems very happy. Yessss!

To add to my misery Monday, Luther disappeared Sunday afternoon. After hanging around the yard like a dirty shirt, loudly suggesting that we serve mealworms every few hours, he vanished. The last time I saw him was about 4 pm Sunday. He was sitting in the tallest twigs of a dead tree a good ways out our driveway, farther than he had ever ranged. Then he was gone.
I knew the time would come when Luther would leave, but I have to say his timing stank. Bill was gone, whereabouts and welfare unknown. Jets and vast expanses of ocean were involved. I knew he had an hour layover around midnight in Senegal, and my mind was going in circles, driving me absolutely nuts with what-if scenarios.
I was thinking along the same lines with Luther. There are sharp-shinned hawks nesting nearby. What if he landed on some farmer's shoulder? What if...
I got up before sunrise this morning, a bundle of miserable nerves, and raced to the computer. There was an email saying that Bill was safely in Africa, racking up lifers and very happy. Oh, how a couple of lines can turn a day around. So much better than, "We regret to inform you that we have no information on your missing husband." I went to the sink to prepare breakfast for Charlie and Chet. And there, on the hummingbird feeder in front of the window, was Luther. Gone and catching his own grub for a day and a half, and back again, big as life. He even took a bath in the Bird Spa this morning.The Bird Spa is one of my favorite products. It attracted a yellow-throated warbler yesterday, one of a very long list of amazing birds that its splashing water has brought in. It's available through Wild Birds Unlimited stores.

When Phoebe woke up, I told her the good news about Daddy, for she had been suffering right along with me. She beamed and hugged me, and Liam, Phoebe, Chet and I danced around the room.Then I put some mealworms in her hand and told her to go out on the porch. Luther landed on her hand and gobbled down three worms. He dropped the fourth, whirled down and caught it before it hit the porch. Wowwww. Now that's some fancy flyin.' Think he's ready for the wild? Her smile said it all. Happy birthday, sweetest Phoebe. You share a birthday with E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little, writer of innumerable wry and understated but hilarious essays, and surely one of our most beloved scribes. How's this for a quote that resonates?

E. B. White wrote, "All I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."

Chet, giving Phoebe a birthday buttin'.


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