By Alan Heil
Please forgive these midsummer musings.
When the Heils moved to their retirement community in the mountains of northern Maryland in 2018, we were awed by the beauty of the surrounding forestland.
On a trail encircling our community, we noted 30 weathered one-holed birdhouses, modestly constructed with all the same dimensions.
But there were no landing entrance poles for the feathered residents to perch. Each circular entry hole was wider than a quarter, but smaller than an imaginary 50-cent coin.
Airborne explorers were forced to fly straight in to enter these wooden huts, partially straw-filled birdhouses, bringing food to their babies.
Was there more to see?
For us, as lovers of nature, you bet! On perhaps our second stroll around the circular trail, we saw a single tiny bluebird emerge from one of the birdhouses, a brilliant blue representative of his or her species.
It peeked out and made a quick exit, as the Heils approached. Our first encounter with a bluebird within sight of northern Maryland’s Sugar Loaf Mountain piqued our curiosity.
Especially when we noticed a neighbor unlatch the frontside of one of the bluebird houses around the trail, looking for an occupant within. No luck, there!
We asked one of the managers of our community to explain. He responded: “We have a volunteer birdwatching committee.” Speaking for myself, I heaved a huge sigh of relief that he didn’t invite us to participate. (I had thought that when we retired, what a relief to have no planning committees to join, to chair, or write meeting summaries about, ever again!)
“Counting bird dwellings.” Doubt that this would qualify in any future biography of either Heil, married 62 years ago, enjoying family reunions here and in Florida, both of us very thankful for our lifelong partnership and our loving family members close by and in Florida and Texas.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More