When we left the cemetery I saw a large white bird along a distant lake. "Stop the car!" I said. Sure enough, it was a single American Pelican standing quietly by the side of the lake. By now, Aunt Edith isn't sure if I am just a crazy person, or a certified bird wizard who conjures up birds in strange locations so they can be photographed. Don't I just wish! Sigh.
Aunt Edith loves genealogy and family history, so we traveled to another town to see the statue of a great-great-great-something grandfather, General Sterling Price. Dick looked him up, and he was quite a personage--legislator, governor, Civil War general for the Confederacy. Despite all the good things he did for the young state of Missouri, we will remember him as refusing to surrender at the end of the war. He took his troops to Mexico to join Emperor Maximilian instead. Remember the John Wayne movie, Rooster Cogburn, where he plays a one-eyed Marshall who captures the bad guys with the help of Katherine Hepburn? (one of my favorites) In it, his only two friends are a Chinaman and his cat, General Sterling Price! Everyone lined up before the statue for pictures. Aren't families great!
Our final stop for the morning was along the sites where she and Dick's father had grown up. Here was the one room school house. There were the slag heaps from coal mines, warm enough that the snow never melted. They wanted to see what the old home looked like, which she discouraged, but we drove out anyway. No one was home at the new residence on the property, and we decided it would be smarter to honor the No Trespassing signs. However, while they looked around I enjoyed the wildflowers and songs of country birds. Here is one that I can't identify. It sat on a phone line, signing loudly. (Whoops! Did you catch that? A bird using sign language would really be a first!) At first, I thought it might be a Meadowlark, with the yellowish belly and black necklace, but it's smaller than a Meadowlark, sings a completely different song, and the bill isn't right. Any ideas out there in the audience? Whatever it is, it will be a lifer for me! The vote is in, and the winner is Dickcissel. That makes two lifers for the week, this Dickcissel and the Henslow's Sparrow.
In a while we will drive to Columbia for dinner with another relative. Tomorrow we'll be shown off to all her friends at church, then the long drive back to Kentucky. I am married to such a wonderful man --how many men like to visit their 89 year old aunts? Of course, she told him that she would curse him at her funeral if that was the only time he ever came to visit!