Seriously though, Anakin hadn't been to the park in a while and Matt and I certainly needed the change of pace after two weeks of hectic work. Ah, stick-chasing.
Anakin's first find was a bark clump that he carried with him while running after other sticks, and it made for some lovely photo ops. The cool, bright morning really energized the little waggler and brought out the "golden" (if not the retrieving). We all found something cool to look at among the driftwood by the lake - and we even posed with the biggest stick we could find.
There were American Snouts absolutely everywhere and flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtles until proven Audubon's) were flycatching after them all over the place. One stray American White Pelican flew over along with one Osprey, several Forester's Terns and Ring-billed Gulls added to the mix. As we were neither birding nor bugging, we didn't really keep track of diversity or numbers. Wrens and chickadees and cardinals were heard, but the focus was definitely on wet paws and stick carrying, chasing and exploring. Sooo many sticks. Happy puppy.
Very happy puppy.
After this year's roller coaster of events, Thanksgiving has taken on a few new meanings this year. Being thankful for family has meant, now, two families and a flock of relatives who have supported and nurtured us through some very rough times. Being thankful for friends has taken on the lighter tones of tailgating with
Immediately in mind, of course, is Laura. Her wisdom and guidance were impeccable throughout the year that Matt and I were two time zones apart. She was as much a friend and confidant as birding companion and biologist. The Packer family has come to be very important to both of us and it is not often with dry eyes that we reminisce.
Here's one, taken by my sister, in front of the blind now named for Laura
Indeed, as much as the Packers have been friends (and quite nearly family to us), Charmaine and Collins Ganson have kept us under their wing during our frequent trips to Houston to check on my parents. Whoever coined the phrase, "friends are the family you choose," certainly knew what they were talking about.
While the aforementioned roller coaster sure had a lot of screaming free-falls, there were gracious buoys of love and adventure across the country (FL and NM come to mind) while we both tried to figure out the job market. Or lack thereof. It is easy to discount a zoo as being the coolest place to work (except when you're actually working at one), but for the first time since 2006, I'm actually getting paid to work full time with live animals. Even healthy, uninjured live ones. Ones that are in no way, shape or form subjected to manmade hazards in the wild (just in captivity). For now, Matt and I have swapped "underemployment" status and it seems to be the price we pay for actually being in the same place - and it turns out that the Abilene wind farm gig would have ended in late October, so it's not like I missed out on a hypothetical four year contract when I left. There are definitely a few more uncounted blessings there...
Whew, long post, kudos for getting this far! I hope everyone had a happy, delicious Thanksgiving and safe travels.
Very happy people.