Birds, and Birds of a Feather

Mocking birds frequent the live oak next to us.  They run along the horizontal boughs like robins, then swoop down to forage among the fallen acorns and leathery oval leaves by our door. They charm us with their collection of bird songs: veritable D.J.s of the avian world.

Usually, one will sing a phrase twice, then after a pause, twice again. If a mate is near, there may be some wren-like growling, but generally, new melodies keep streaming in that same pattern, not to be repeated, at least within the time we listen.

They’re graceful, warmish-gray birds, about the size of a thrush, and we’ve felt honored that they like our tree; a bit less honored by their white droppings on our black chair. Some park residents have male mockers who obsess over their vehicle mirrors, seeing a ‘rival’ there and then pooping at him, so they must bag their mirrors!

Out at the Gulf Shores State Park, on a beach of fine white sugar sands, we’ve become known by the local gull flock, and are on a first name basis with some of them. We toss them a few peanuts or almonds so they’ll colonize our ‘encampment’ of chairs and totes, and when the wind is right, we toss, they hover, and we shoot them, (with our cameras). Each is a unique individual, and their interactions remind me of the wonderful book Jamie Wyeth illustrated with gulls displaying the seven deadly sins.

He missed one sin, though. It wasn’t until I got back to the parking lot that I realized I’d been bombed by one of them: a sort of primitive peanut-butter on my linen jacket! Ah well, a small price to pay for visions of white tail feathers, fanned out over neatly-tucked black feet, and the thrill of beaks grabbing almonds from my fingers. Did you know that sea-gulls drool?

The Rainbow Plantation Escapees campground is populated at this time of year by a flock of Escapees from all over the country–mostly escaping winter. They have many smaller subgroups focusing on specialized interests of the members. These are called BOF groups (acronym for Birds of a Feather). The Escapees have many affiliated parks, a mail forwarding service, and a quarterly magazine. They offer great support to RVers.

The Escapees are delightful people. No matter what differences there may be, there’s a vast area of common interest and experience in RVing that makes for warm and easy friendships. After joining the club, we camped at several Escapees campgrounds in 2008 and will camp at many more. Yes, there are a lot of seniors (like us) here, but they’re lively, diverse, engaged seniors: wonderful role models and great people to know.

We came here thinking we’d stay three days and ended up staying a month. There are Tuesday and Thursday dinners at the clubhouse. The food’s good, but people really come for the company: travelers from all over the country. Some are transient, some permanent residents. It’s wonderful: a sort of upscale Hobo jungle, sharing tales of travel, mishaps, recommendations of restaurants, museums, parks, hidden wonders on the road. Before the meal, a host makes a few announcements and then says, ‘Let us each give thanks in our own way’. A sweet moment of complete silence follows and then the happy din of easy banter, introductions, and happy dining begins. Nice.

I awoke today thinking of Odysseus almost losing his crew in the land of the lotus eaters. There’s something of that here. The place has charm that grows, from the many different activities offered each day, the ample take-one-leave-one library (just keep the authors in alphabetical order), the impressive musical jam sessions, to every imagineable hobby group. I met a man tonight who’d just put a big, jointed teddy-bear in his truck. We asked him if he’d won it, figuring there had been some sort of door prize that afternoon.

“No, I just made it,” he said proudly.

“How long did it take you to make?” I asked.

“Three days, but I used a sewing machine; they taught me!”

It’s been fun being part of this flock.

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