Monday, April 8, 2013

The Condor in the Room

DSC_0721-Chris and I-kab

 Chris and I at Agua Caliente Park 9-9-2012

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile. Today I am finally getting around to it. No, there is no actual condor in the room. This is just my birdy take on the old saying, “The elephant in the room.” It means when one is avoiding the obvious, the thing that everyone can see, but no one is talking about. Well, I am talking it today, and that is my friendship with Chris Rohrer.

DSC_0191 Empire gulch-kab Chris at Empire Gulch 9-16-12

When I first moved here last August I was very depressed. Though I had lived in Tucson before and loved it, I had also loved being back on the east coast near my family. With the discovery of my Mom’s breast cancer while I was there, and her subsequent treatment and recovery, it was suddenly very hard to leave her, and it has never been this way before in all the times I’ve moved away over and over again.

Poetry header 11-3-10 But it was not only my Mom, my sister or even the rest of my family that made it hard. After years of living out west and loving it, I had finally fallen in love with New England again. I loved the maple trees in autumn, a warm fire on the hearth in winter, the lilacs in spring, and the smell of pine needles baking in the warm summer sun. I love the ocean in all seasons, as well as the birds. After living in the desert for three and a half years, I loved the presence of water everywhere. You can’t drive very far in New England without seeing a lake, pond, river or brook. There are swamps and bogs all over the place, and, of course, there is the ocean! And though our New England Mountains are not as tall and jagged as the Rockies, they do have their own quiet beauty. And then there are the trees: tall, towering pines, branching, lush maples, strong, majestic oaks, and delicate, lacy willows. Once again, quite a contrast to the Sonoran Desert.

DSC_0583 balcony birding-kab So, as my car pulled up in front of the new house we would be renting, my heart sank. I got up every morning and sat on the balcony looking off to the east and missing my Mom. Being homesick is a rather new feeling for me, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, so I kept myself busy unpacking and rearranging my nest and trying not to cry. My husband didn’t quite know what to do with me. He wanted to make me happy, but he wanted to be here, in Tucson, with no snow. He was thrilled to be back and because he didn’t know how to “fix it,” I think he avoided the subject all together.

DSC_0657-Agua Caliente-kabThis is where Chris comes into the picture. I had never met Chris before I moved here, though I had communicated with him some from my Sycamore Canyon blog. Then we lost contact with each other until right before I moved here. He re-discovered me on my Kathie’s Birds Blog and started commenting. When he heard I was moving back, he encouraged me. Once I finally got here, he invited me to go birding with him. Since it was the start of football season, my husband and son were watching football every weekend, so it made it easy to leave them behind and go out birding. It started with our first meeting at Agua Caliente Park. We hit it off right away and had such a good time. So, we planned another birding adventure for the next weekend and the next. Since both of us have partners who do not care to bird and since we got along so well, we were soon going birding every weekend. Then the New Year rolled around and we started a Big January. Before I knew it, my sadness was gone. I was happy to be here again.

DSC_0001 Gilbert Water Ranch-kab Chris Learning to list on his first visit to Gilbert Water Ranch 11-12-2012

When I first met Chris he was still a bit new to birding. But once I showed him eBird, he took the bit in his mouth and was off and running. Soon he was chasing birds more than me. He would call me up and say, “I’m stopping by Sweetwater after work. Want to meet me there?” Or, “There is a Canada Goose down at Kennedy Park, let’s go see it!” For my part, I got excited about showing him all the birding locations that I knew. I love to share my passions. That is why I write all the blogs I do. You don’t spend so much time with someone if you do not like them. I like Chris. He is a good friend. Our birding styles are similar and we get along great. I think we are both sensitive to the other, we both care passionately about the birds, and we accept each other for who they are. It wasn’t long before I knew that I had made a lifelong friend.

DSC_0004 santa cruz river-kab Birding the Santa Cruz River in Marana 12-29-12

However, I became aware of one thing. Soon all my blogposts were about Chris and I and our biridng adventures. There were few, if any blogposts about me and my own thoughts and my own birding adventures. In some ways I felt like I was losing myself and becoming this new entity. I was left with the question, how do I maintain my friendship with Chris, and still be myself? I realized that my birding life and my blog had changed, yet I didn’t want to end my friendship with Chris. That would be stupid. I just needed some down time. I just needed a chance to be alone and think by myself again.

DSC_0054 Lark Buntings Lark Buntings in Avra Valley 10-28-2012

Just about two weeks ago I fell while hiking and birding with Celeste in Saguaro National Park. Chris was working at the time, then headed to Flagstaff for the weekend with his partner. The fall really cut up my left leg and knee, which is still healing, but it also presented me with some down time, a chance to be alone and get my thoughts back together, and get back to being myself. I started writing poetry again, and getting caught up on photo processing and blogposts and visiting other blogs.

DSC_0025 Whitewater draw-kabWhitewater draw 1-3-2013

It is always a dilemma for me: stay home and blog, or go out birding and have great adventures and see wonderful birds but then have not time to blog about it! I know Chris faces the same dilemma. We talk about it all the time. It’s all about finding balance, and that is up to each of us.

DSC_0713 Chris-kab My birding buddy and friend, Chris 9-9-2012

So, what’s the end result here? I like having Chris for my friend. My birding life is enhanced by having someone to share it with. We will continue to have many birding adventures and sometimes I know that I will still overdo it. I am and will always be “Kathiesbirds,” but sometimes I will also be The Adventures of Kathie and Chris. And that is okay with me. As Robert Mortensen put it so well, having a birding buddy allows us to find more birds. We now have two pairs of eyes, two pairs of ears and two cameras to capture the birds with! Chris gets me to go places I would not go by myself. I taught him to list. He has taught me to chase! Chris hears better than I do; I see better than him. Chris researches all the birds beforehand. I like to go where no birder has gone before! As for the Condor in the room, well, I think I have set it free. I have never actually seen one a real one, and neither has Chris…Yet! Chris, can you say, “Road Trip!”

DSC_0058 View from balcony-kab

Western view from my balcony in Tucson, AZ 12-31-2012


  1. You and Chris are very fortunate to be friends. South Rim for condor sightings. North Rim for me, next month.

    1. Gaelyn, we are and thank you! I REALLY hope to get up there to see you this year!

  2. Sounds like a great partnership for the both of you! If I lived a bit closer to the Tucson area, I would be begging to join you once in a while!

    1. Gordon, you would be and always are welcome! This is not an exclusive club!

  3. Very great stuff Kathie. Articulate and poignant, this was a great post to read.
    Best to you all as we get into some heavy spring and summer birding!!

    1. Laurence, Chris and I are still waiting to meet you! When? When? When? I say?
      When will you come out and play?
      will it be a sunny day?
      Will this meeting happen soon?
      if it doesn't, I might swoon!

      Good birding to you as well!

  4. Beautiful stuff, Kathie. That's a great and valuable friendship. This post is a testament to the goodness in the world. Thanks for being a part of it.

  5. You make me blush Ms. Brown. I'm giving you this weekend off and then you better be ready for one day the weekend after:) There are way too many birds to chase!!! I vote on a car ride counting birds this week:) Maybe Wednesday??

  6. Very interesting...I'm glad you figured out what the balance was for you to be happy with this. A good friend is always a treasure. I can identify with your words about the west vs. the east. I've never lived in the west, but every time I visit my sister, I know that I would be miserable away from the water and green of the miswest. You and Chris make a great pair and seem to have a very good time at your birding. It is always nice to have someone else excited about the same things you are. I'm so used to birding with my husband, that having someone along just seems normal. I'm the one who takes photos and blogs, but he is so helpful as the driver and spotter, as well as good company. He enjoys seeing everything and just being out doing something, and I enjoy taking photos and blogging about it. It's a lot of fun to have someone along with you, if your birding style meshes. I'll be in Tucson in about a week's time (16th)! Can't wait to go back to Sweetwater and anywhere else interesting, but am worried about how I will do in the heat....we've never come this late in April before and heat bothers me. I think we are going to try some new areas this time, further south where you used to live.

  7. I can relate to all of the above. My son and family is in Arizona. We live in Minnesota. I like blue water. And green trees. And four seasons.... and birding with a friend.

  8. I used to photograph alone most of the time in Florida and then I started photographing birds with buddies and realized how much fun it could be to share the excitement of photographing with another person. 4 Eyes to see them, 4 ears to hear them and being able to help each other.

    You and Chris make a great team and I very much enjoy reading about your adventures plus you both tell such wonderful stories but have different views too.

  9. Kathie, you and Chris are both talented bloggers, exuberant birders and blessed to have found each other. The universe brought you both together for many reasons...embrace it, enjoy it, honor it! Some of us (myself included) are still solo birders waiting patiently for a birding partner to swoop down into our lives. May you both continue to make time for each other and live your birding passion to the can always blog about it later! Happy Birding. K

  10. Kathie, it is not that often to have such a friend as Chris come into our lives. I see it is definitely a blessing. You both have grown from your birding experiences and learned more about yourselves. You will find that balance in your life between you as a person and you as a friend. Enjoy life to its fullest! From knowing you all these years, I can say I am a little jealous of your adventures with Chris! Love ya, K

  11. Kathie, what a sweet post and what a lovely 'problem' to have :) I am glad that you have worked out a way to still maintain a separate you as well as enjoying Chris's company. I know how fond you are of him and that shows in your writing.


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.