Sam WHITBY #207

Letters to the Editor

from Sam WHITBY in CMO #207

.......Here are a couple of ornithological notes, etc., to add the random comments sent earlier.
  A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing a wild turkey hen and several of her youngsters as they casually walked along Interstate 295. These birds are not exactly endangered, but it is rare to see them out in the open. My brother has informed me that at least 17 wild turkeys live on the family farm. When I asked him not to kill them, he just grinned like a good ol' boy.
  My brother had a great peach crop after all. He bought a truck and a building, and now he is buying and selling produce full time. Maybe he will hire me one day.
  This morning I saw a bald eagle while crossing the bridge leading out of Hopewell. The eagle seemed startled to see cars, and it did a sort of hover for a second before it resumed its flight. It was a young bird, almost but not quite changed to the adult plumage.
 The national news has carried the story of the flooding in China. Whatever the economic consequences, it is surely a disaster to the people living there.
  Hurricane Bonnie is on the way. She may hit Virginia, but we are far enough inland not to have much reason to worry. Planning to vacation soon in North Carolina, we hope that the storm spares the vacation cottage. One of our fellow vacationers asked, "Bonnie? Who invited her?"
(24 Aug 1998 email)

.......Thank you for the message and the photos, all of which are interesting. I will thank MURAKAMI-san directly. I just want to add that we have gotten word that Dare County, NC, where we plan to vacation next week, is being evacuated, for Bonnie is expected to arrive there in the next few hours. The Outter Banks are very low and near the ocean, and hurricanes have been known to flood the whole area, knocking down even strong buildings with the storm surge. Thankfully we have insurance, and we are still hoping that the cottage will survive without significant damage. If the cottage survives, everything should be over by the time we get there.

(25 Aug 1998 email)

........Last night I visited my parents, and we looked at some old photographs. We encountered a photo taken in 1970 that may be interesting to you. It shows me in my role as amateur naturalist, examining a particularly large specimen of black snake. This non-poisonous snake ate a lot of mice and rats during its long life (birds and eggs too, unfortunately), so my parents were warily grateful for its presence on the farm. Much later than this photo a well-intentioned but ignorant visitor "helped out" my parents by killing the snake before they could explain their special relationship. It's nice to be able to send you a photo of yours truly taken before a lifetime of too much pizza and the loss of my hair.
  Last night my father mentioned that he on the way home had seen about 40 wild turkeys in one field. Good news that is to wildlife fanciers.

(26 Aug 1998 email)

.......For your amusement, I am sending the attached relic of ancient history, which one could call an afternoon in the life of a hippy wannabee. This photo was taken in (probably) 1973. My friend at the time is now married with her own kids. By chance, after no contact with her for 20 years, I had a friendly visit with her and her husband and kids at the Walmart in 1994, the night before the tornado blew it and part of Petersburg to oblivion. A coincidence? A warning perhaps? This photo is just for your interest and because I once volunteered to send you such a photo. This one was the only one I could find.
 We are still wondering whether or not we will go to NC. Bonnie is there now and already causing problems even here. We will be OK, whatever happens.

(27 Aug 1998 email)

.........I am vacationing already, so there is time to answer you, even though you will probably not read this for awhile. Thank you for letting me know about how you feel about snakes. I will not bother you with that kind of photo again. The bearded fellow was me. I think, in spite of the earlier information, that the photo must have been taken in the summer of '72. I was transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University at about that time.
  We share your concern about the Russian economy. From the perspective of one little man on the street, I think we are finally about to be hurt by our generosity. When communism fell, a lot of us were concerned about the fate of the Russian citizens and were willing to help in order to keep them afloat until they could patch their boat up. Now it looks more and more like their boat will sink and our investment will just be lost. Last night, when the newsmen talked about Bonnie, I told Uta to wait for the real news - the collapse of the Russian economy. I think the bears have heard the uproar and begun to go on a rampage.
  Enjoy your trip. I will get back to you in about ten days or so, when we, my fingers are crossed, return from ours.

(27 Aug 1998 email)

.......Thank you for CMO 206 and for your kind message. I enjoyed the photo of the lily on the CMO web page.
  We had a very enjoyable vacation. Hurricanes Bonnie (you are right, the second of the season) and Earl missed us. The ocean was rough but warm enough even for your friend Sam who does not like swimming in cold water.
  Having written in a previous message that my circumzenithal arc photo was taken near where the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk, I will clarify that the Wright brothers lived at Kitty Hawk and began their gliding there but made their historic powered flight at Kill Devil Hills.
  We have had some very pleasant cool weather lately. The summer air is often excessively hazy, and the winter brings with it a lot of trouble with tube currents. September and October usually bring the best astronomical seeing.
  I plan to try to catch Jupiter later tonight. Mars will be coming around soon.
  Bill Clinton continues to be an embarrassment. Instead of the floods in China and the floundering economy in Russia, the media are occupied by an adulterous liason by the so-called leader of the free world. A few minutes ago my wife pointed out a cartoon of Clinton saying over and over again that he was sorry, with the caption that he was a very sorry President. This was a play on words, for sorry, in the vernacular, also means lacking in value, cheap and no good. I am actually beginning to feel sorry(!) for the man.
  Moving along to an only partly related topic, I will mention that we saw the wild turkeys again, this time missing two of the younger ones. I have also continued to enjoy seeing the bald eagles down on the river. (Virginians, Richmonders in particular, would say, down on the Rivuh, and they would mean the James).
  I will get back to you later. Thank you again for CMO 206. With best wishes,

(12 Sept 1998 email)

Samuel WHITBY ( VA, USA ) :