It took me nine months to grow a baby. My daughter Ashley, my proudest achievement. She supports me 100%. She is also a fabulous ballroom dancer.
I am now almost finished with my ninth month of the Big Year and it feels a lot like childbirth. These nine months have spanned the range of human emotion, from elation to despair. Many times I have felt like one of t…hose movie reels from the 1930s where everything is going by at warp speed. So much has happened, that it’s hard to see the individual frames.
I’ve always had wanderlust. I’ve lived in 22 different homes in my life and almost always by choice. Friends don’t bother learning my address. While most people dread moving, I look forward to it. This trait has made me a perfect candidate for a Big Year. My address this year has changed almost daily. Even for me, this has been a bit much.
As I prepare for the home stretch, I look back at the personal events in my life for 2017 and gasp.
I lost my mother. A loss that has no expiration date and from which my entire family, especially my father, struggles to endure.
I lost a dear friend to cancer. Stopped in the prime of her life at 42.
My home in Naples, Florida was hit by a Category 4 hurricane. Although initial reports looked good, I have more damage than previously reported.
I am heading there soon to deal with the aftermath.
I was lucky. It could have been devastating.
I have often said that nobody does a Big Year in a vacuum. Little did I know how truly prophetic those words would become.
As I prepare for the last trimester, I think back to my tennis life. My teammates in Florida called me “Kung Fu Panda.” I’d like to think it was because of my tenacious nature. I never give up. I don’t intend to do that now. I will continue to pursue the birds in my quest to reach a destiny that I cannot predict.
Tomorrow, I hope that quest yields a Masked Duck in Oklahoma.
My current count is 742 in the Continental U.S. and 780 including Hawaii.