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A long-awaited return

Updated: Sep 12, 2023


In 1994, Kate and I were living in Takoma Park, Maryland. Looking for a change, I found a job with the Orvis Company, and we started planning a move to Vermont. Kate had just taken a job with World Wildlife Fund in D.C., and we weren’t sure the Orvis job would fit, so I struck out on my own, and set up camp.

In the 8 months we lived apart, I found us a rental home in West Pawlet and moved in alone that snowy December. Living on my own again was a challenge. I spent a lot of time digging into my new job.

It was that spring that I fell in love with the grosbeaks. They were entirely new to me. We never saw them in D.C. or Takoma Park. I first saw these dramatic red, white, and black birds in the spring, just before Kate moved up to join me. As a welcome-home surprise, I painted a larger-than-life grosbeak on the glass sliding door. It stayed there for years, a decoy to coax these birds to the little feeder I mounted on the glass.

Since then I celebrate their arrival each spring because their return and Kate’s return are forever linked.

We eagerly await them every year. Almost a dozen years ago Kate started recording the dates of our first-of-year sightings:

5-3-2012

4-29-2013

5-3-2014

5-1-2015

4-26-2016

4-29-2017

5-3-2018

5-3-2019

5-3-2020

4-30-2021

4-25-2022

Return of the rose-breasted grosbeak is a 10 x 10 inch acrylic painted on a wood panel.

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