Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Day in the Country

One of the reasons for our trip to Missouri is to visit Dick's oldest living relative, Aunt Edith, so we traveled to Moberly to visit her, her son and grandson, also visiting this weekend. Aunt Edith wanted to check on the graves of several relatives, so we all drove to the cemetery in the old home town. As I strolled around looking at markers of people who were born in the early 1800's, I noticed a Robin's nest atop one of the markers next to some silk flowers. Curious, I peered inside and found two newly hatched babies, and one egg still unhatched. The day was surprisingly cool, and the babies needed their mama. Although I think I was quiet, one hungry baby lifted it's head and opened up for mama. A Robin flew from tree to marker to marker, anxiously waiting for us to leave. Cemeteries don't only hold death, but life as well. Pretty cool, isn't it?
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!


swamp4me said...

Treebeard says it looks like a dickcissel to him. He's never seen one in person, but he's seen loads of pictures.

KatDoc said...

Replying too late, but yes, it is a Dickcissel, a grassland bird often described as looking like a small meadowlark. He sings his name: "dick-siss-siss-siss -el"

Congrats on the Lifes - Henslow's Sparrows can be easy to hear and quite difficult to see.


Kathiesbirds said...

Lovely photos. Congrats on the lifers! I like the field of flowers. I'm trying to get some lifers in CT but so far no such luck!

dAwN said...

OH..I love the bird nest..congrats on the lifers!