…continued from the previous post…
In New Mexico there were not only many bird species I’d never seen but also two little cousins, Little M and J (first cousins twice removed), that I’d never met. I’d received periodic stories, school pictures, and family portraits, but had never been in the same room with these quickly growing up little people.
In addition to that, it was probably 1994 the last time I had seen my first cousin L, her husband G and their son C. In fact C was barely out of diapers the last time I’d seen him, and now he’s finishing up his university degree. Sigh.
I had a set of first cousins once removed to whom I had sent birthday and Christmas gifts throughout their growing up, but whom I had not seen in just as long. I had never met M’s husband–the father in all those family portraits with little M and J. So in addition to birding, I was hoping to hit each of their towns on days when they would neither be away on vacation nor too busy to visit with us. Adding to the complications was the fact that Chuck and I moved this trip up by at least three weeks after he learned of his earlier-than-expected lay-off from the refinery job.
Somehow, though, it all worked out rather well. The children I was hoping to meet were being brought to the home of one of their grandmother’s for babysitting while their parents took their yearly vacation to Las Vegas. If we timed it right, we could arrange to be at that grandma’s house the evening their parents delivered them there. All I knew was that this grandma lived in or near Albuquerque, and our birding route was bringing us right to Albuquerque just one day before that rendezvous was to take place. After that we would pass through cousin L’s town after her horse’s vet appointment but before she had a job to do at 3:00. And we would arrive at my aunt’s house down near the Texas border after her Monday medical appointment but before the Friday one. It was all coming together perfectly.
So we booked ourselves into an Albuquerque hotel for two nights, enjoying the rare luxury of not having to search out new lodging the next night. We would hit a few more of the birding hot spots that day and then find out where to be that evening to see the children.
Each time we had emailed or texted updates on our E.T.A. as we approached Albuquerque, we had gotten more details. Yes, my cousin’s ex wife and her new husband welcomed us to visit the children in their home. Now I had an email address for them. Next I got a number at which I could call or text them. Finally it was time to get an address.
Using Chuck’s lap top and Google Maps, I found G and G’s house in the eastern mountains outside Albuquerque. They lived on a dirt road near an old church. San Antonio mission church, in fact. Huh? The church and the map of the roads around it looked mighty familiar to me. Um. What? I found myself looking at the exact same map that I had studied all last year in my book about birding Central New Mexico. Behind this old mission church was supposed to be a hot spot called Ojito de San Antonio Open Space. My cousin’s ex, it turned out, lived right up the hill (maybe a quarter mile) from the gurgling spring that attracted so many birds.
Jazzed by this crazy coincidence, we made a birding agenda for the day that would end at the Ojito de San Antonio Open Space. From there we could retreat to our host’s home to recover from a day spent birding in the desert heat and, hopefully, hug and kiss and visit with a lot of dear people I’d either never met or had not seen in almost twenty years.
…to be continued…