When I first started to blog, the only purpose was to place my trip reports (hence the name "Travels With Birds") on the internet so that others contemplating a birding adventure in a given region might benefit from my experiences.
I could never, in my wildest dreams, have imagined how far-reaching and expansive blogging would become, and how many true and genuine friendships would be made. I have stayed with people, birded with them, had dinner in their homes on three continents, and received gifts. I have even mourned a couple who have died. Relationships that will no doubt last a lifetime have been formed, developed, enhanced and cemented.
One such amazing alliance has been with Sue Goldberg in Canberra, Australia - about as far away from Waterloo, Ontario as you can get! She has become a true and steadfast friend - and we have never even met. It has often crossed my mind that the internet in a perverse sort of way sometimes facilitates friendships more easily than actual contact.
I have visited Australia twice and Sue knows that I have become besotted with Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita), a species that often visits her garden. Gorgeous and endearing as they may appear, a gang of cockatoos can do serious damage, merrily severing the flowers from their stems, peeling bark from trees, removing the weather-stripping from windows, detaching the seal around your car's windshield, and other nefarious deeds of their own devising. Sue calls them Sulphur-crested Vandals with good reason; yet she loves them still, and understands more than anyone my obsession with them.
All this preamble is to tell you that yesterday I received a package from Sue containing a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo coffee mug and a selection of flight feathers shed by her visitors.
How incredibly kind is this? What a splendid, personal and deeply meaningful gift! I was thrilled, ecstatic, moved, grateful and happy that Sue has become part of my life.
At around ten o'clock each morning Miriam and I have coffee and a little confection of one kind or another that she has made. It is as much a part of our daily rhythm as waking up! Even when we are out birding for the day we take it with us.
You will not even need to guess what my favourite coffee mug is going to be for all time!