Do you believe in fate? I do. Matter of fact, every day I find a new reason to delight in my wife Emery.
For example, her sister is dating a gentleman, Chris Murray. Like me, Chris is seriously into his birding. On our recent Toomey family vacation to Holden Beach, North Carolina, Chris and I spent hours and days birding away the vacation. Coincidence? I will leave that for you to decide.
Lucky me. But it gets better...
When Emery and I first starting dating (many, many moons ago), I had the privilege of meeting her Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob Lavell was an avid birder and a true gentleman. He passed away a few years ago. I never really did have the opportunity to really sit down with him and discuss our shared love of birds. I regret that lost opportunity.
Yesterday, Emery's father Joe was kind enough to give me several of Uncle Bob's classic birding books. You see, Uncle Bob's wife Aunt Mary (A.K.A. Butch), will be moving soon. Her new place is smaller, which will put storage space at a premium.
I'm honored to receive this special gift from Butch and the late, great Uncle Bob. I'll cherish these books, scour them for knowledge and enjoy them from cover to cover.
SHOREBIRDS: AN IDENTIFICATION GUIDE. 1986
A COLOURED KEY TO THE WILDFOWL OF THE WORLD. 1965
TOP FLIGHT FIELD GUIDE IN FULL COLOR: SPEED INDEX TO WATERFOWL. 1979
Occasionally, my wife sports Uncle Bob's birding hat. I have thought about borrowing it many times. Lucky for her, my head is way too big.
AUDUBON WATER BIRD GUIDE. 1951In Uncle Bob's later years, he delved into wood carving. I heard he was quite good at it too. From what I've been told, he carved many a small bird. Perhaps I too will explore this art form in the future? At the very least I hope to tell you more about it soon.
GULLS: A GUIDE TO IDENTIFICATION. 1982
The Uncle Bob Bird Book Collection, including THE AUDUBON SOCIETY FEILD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN BIRDS. 1977
I believe that there is much to learn from our elders. With each new 'year bird' I see on my way to 300 species in Maryland in 2008, I will tip my hat to Uncle Bob. Hopefully, if the fates allow, I will achieve my lofty goal. But should I not reach my goal, the enjoyment, the challenges and the discoveries that have occurred while on my many journeys will provide me with both a deeper knowledge of birds and my home state of Maryland.
And sometime soon... when I am knee deep in mud, covered in flies, or trudging through some thick brush, I'll be having a spirited conversation with Uncle Bob. More than likely, I'll be asking a lot of questions.
All the best,