Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Reunion I Can Enjoy

This Saturday my old high school will hold its annual reunion. I will not be attending.

I have nothing against the old school. Being a private school I send a contribution every year. I learned a lot of good things there, including that there was life beyond my little enclave of southern Brooklyn. I learned how to make my way across the borough via subway, and how to get around the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood when I didn't have a class to attend.

That was 40 years ago.
I look forward to seeing this year's Baltimore orioles.
(Margo D. Beller)
Looking at the school website I saw that only 5 members of my class would be attending, and these are people I didn't particularly like, for the most part. Did I want them to see me, graying hair, even grayer husband, and then, in answer to the inevitable "What are you doing now?" and "Do you have children?" say "nothing of importance" and "no," respectively?


I have gone to some of the reunions a few times, the last time to see all the physical changes to the place both inside and out. But do I want to be reminded I am 40 years older than the time I graduated from there and went on to a different city for college life and where I met MH? Not really.

So I gave my regrets, which were not sincere.
I'm ready to start hiking now. (Margo D. Beller)

Instead, I will be having a different kind of reunion.

MH and I will be going to a park in another state and look for returning migrants. We've had wacky weather this year, and the cold and wind that returned after unusual warmth this April are gone now - for good, I hope. Birds that have been trying to get to their northern breeding grounds, including New Jersey where I live, have been delayed. But I think they are now on the way, if the reports I read are right.

The phoebe returned to the bridge over the brook, as usual. J.J. Audubon tied a string around the leg of a phoebe he found as a young bird and the next year the bird returned, one of the first instances of banding to track the migratory path.

And the chipping sparrow has returned, not long after its cousin the junco departed. For a little bird it has a big song and it will sit and sing it for hours. So will the house wren, another spring visitor. I am looking forward to hearing one in my yard again. Same with the Baltimore oriole and wood thrush. Goldfinches have been coming to the seed feeder.

The warblers are returning. These little bits of sunshine don't really warble much in their song and they are a challenge to find and identify since they tend to arrive just as the trees start leafing out. But that's the fun of them. We've already had a reunion with three of the earliest returnees - the pine, the palm and the myrtle (or yellow-rump, as some call it). We've even made the acquaintance of a usually southern warbler, the yellow-throated warbler.

Soon will come more -- the northern parulas, black-throated greens and the American redstart, and perhaps a yellow warbler or a common yellow-throat will grace our backyard again.

In my element. (RE Berg-Andersson)
We've already been greeted by the ruby-crowned and the gold-crowned kinglets, the field sparrows and the green heron in our travels. The other week we sat on Scott's Mountain with Henry Kielblock and his group and watched ospreys and broadwinged hawks head north.

These are the reunions I enjoy.

I'm not against family reunions. I've had some wonderful times with my maternal relatives, not with my father's side, unfortunately. MH and I have plenty of reunions with his family and our far-flung friends, either at their houses or at ours, as well.

But in this case, given the choice between sitting with people I haven't seen for 40 years and wandering the fields and parks with MH to once again see winged wonders, I'll take the wandering every time.