As those of you who read my blog know, I am fascinated with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology bird cams. Each day I have spent probably more time than I should have watching and capturing screen shots of the nest activities on the Great Blue Heron and Red-tailed Hawk nests. The three Hawk eggs have hatched and the chicks are growing quickly. We are still waiting for the five Heron eggs to hatch. What strikes me each time I watch these pairs is the cooperation that exists between the female and male. Both sets of parents share nest duties which include building, maintaining, protecting, brooding, hunting and feeding. The two banded Red-tailed Hawks have been together for a number of years. The Heron father keeps returning to the Sapsucker Woods Pond tree, taking on different mates, although the Herons do remain monogamous during the mating season. I am aware that these bird behaviors have to do with survival, but sometimes it almost looks as if they actually care for each other.
This past month has also been cause for two family wedding celebrations. Our nephew wed and then a week later my husband’s cousin was married. These happy occasions were all the more welcome since we have reached the age in which family gatherings usually involve sad funerals. When our son married two years ago, we enjoyed seeing relatives and friends we had not seen since our move. Since then, we have connected more frequently with family on both my husband’s and my sides.
In these recent weddings, both young couples chose to have their ceremonies outdoors. The weather did cooperate and both natural settings provided a lovely backdrop for their vows. Each couple also chose to be married by friends and each ceremony included a reading of the same poem. Our nephew and his bride chose Historic Prallsville Mills in Stockton, NJ. My husband’s cousin and her husband chose the beach at Ocean City, NJ, and The Flanders Hotel off the boardwalk. Both celebrations had unique and special elements, reflecting the creativity of all involved. Both were wonderful.
So, as these newlyweds begin their married lives, I hope that their commitments and love continue to grow. After almost thirty-nine years of marriage, with the expected peaks and valleys, I wish them patience, tolerance, communication, loyalty and the ability to compromise. What the birds I watch do so instinctively, we, as humans muddle through and frequently bungle. I suppose it might be easier if ‘love’ was not an issue for us. But since it is, the path to marital bliss relies on keeping that alive. Best of luck to them all!
Another common thread in both ceremonies included vows to allow each partner to support each other’s aspirations and dreams. This sounds easy, but when everyday life gets in the mix, it can actually be quite difficult. I do know that each spouse must first be happy as an individual in order to be able to make the other happy as well. Finally, in retirement, my husband and I have the time to devote to our own interests. One of our common interests, other than our family, happens to be art. Having both taught high school Art for many years, we rarely found time to create on a regular basis. My mixed media collages and watercolor paintings are now my areas of involvement. My husband presently works with wood and metal, creating meticulously crafted belt buckles. He also paints. Our directions will no doubt change as we continue to work.
My latest collage imagery developed from both my bird watching and wedding weekends. Screen shots from the web cam on both nests were chosen because of what in human terms would amount to a caring moment. The Herons engage in beak tapping which is part of their mating ritual. The Hawk photos include one where they are gazing at one another and one where Ezra, the male, is standing over and shielding Big Red as she protects the chicks in a heavy rain storm. It was a challenge to include photographs and memorabilia without it looking like a scrapbook project. I hope the end product reflects my style at least as much as the subject matter.