For the Birds Radio Program: New Year 2008
January 1, 2008 will be the 57th New Year’s Day I’ve experienced, so one might think the charm of a spanking new year might be wearing a bit thin, but every year I’m filled with eager anticipation wondering what cool new adventures will unfold. 2007 was a darned good year—I went to Guatemala for the first time in my life, and to Costa Rica for the third time. Even if nothing else good happened for the entire rest of the year, that would have been plenty. But I also spent a week in Oklahoma in May—that was a thrilling trip on which I not only saw Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, Mississippi Kites, Painted Buntings, and adorable Black-capped Vireos, but also got some shockingly wonderful views of Diamondback Rattlesnakes.
In the fall, I got to see the Whooping Cranes making a practice flight behind the Ultralight at Necedah National Wildlife Refuge, made a trip to the Bear River National Wildlife Refuge in Utah and the Bosque del Apache refuge in New Mexico, and then went to California for the Central Valley Birding Symposium where I got to spend hours with Yellow-billed Magpies.
One would think that it would be hard to top such a banner year, but 2008 is already shaping up to be one of the best years of my whole life. First thing in the morning January 1 I’ll hop into my car with Photon, heading to Ithaca New York, because on January 7th, I’ll be starting my new job as science editor and writer for the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. I’ve always considered Cornell to be the epicenter of ornithology in the known universe, at the forefront in avian research, conservation, and education, and I’ll get to write about everything going on there, so it’s not the least bit of an exaggeration to say that this is truly my dream job. How often does a 56-year-old woman with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education who spent two decades as a stay-at-home mother with no other real credentials get hired by an Ivy League college for her dream job?
So my New Year’s holiday will be spent driving, my car filled to the brim with my cameras, scope and binoculars, books, clothes, cooking supplies, a deflated sleep number mattress, and my little dog Photon. I feel a little like Mary Richards driving off to a whole new life, only with no one singing in the background, “How will you make it on your own?” I won’t be entirely on my own—Russ and I each got a new cell phone on our daughter Katie’s family plan so we can all stay connected in a virtual wireless universe when we’re not in one another’s face-to-face real world. When I’m over there, I’ll be working on my Big Green Big Year, counting all the birds I see around my new apartment, which just happens to be near a protected wetland and some wonderful parks, and enjoying and absorbing everything I can from the amazing resources and people at the Lab. This is the start of a whole wonderful chapter in my life. I hope your new year is starting just as splendidly.