Just call me Sharon Q. Whineypants.
I'm in Connecticut this weekend with Ben Lizdas, Joe Hamilton and Bruce Mercer for the CT Audubon Society's Bald Eagle Festival. I learned today that our booth is still in fact outdoors, on the river and NOT in a heated tent as originally planned. I think I packed okay for it, thigh-high wool socks (not as attractive as it sounds) lots of fleece, sweaters and my cold weather helper: Hot Hands. I know I'm a Minnesota girl and should be used to the cold, but I bird in the car when it's cold. I'm sure Non Birding Bill will read this and think I'm being especially whiney since today the Twin Cities were -14 degrees with a wind chill at -36. I'm going to be in 20 - 30 degree weather (though on a river so it will feel colder).
When we arrived today, we greeted some of the festival organizers. They were kind enough to invite us to a gala going on tonight. One of the organizers told us that the invite said "black tie" but not to worry, they get a little funky with their idea of black tie (I need to consult with them on their definition of funky). In fact, one of the organizers pointed to his jeans and red cotton shirt and said that was all he would be wearing. Thinking that this was like an ordinary bird festival, I figured we could dress in our regular clothes and fit in. Alas, the Connecticut Audubon Eagle Festival is not your typical bird festival. There weren't just black ties, but ties of all colors. All the gentlemen were in suits and many ladies were wearing shoes that I'm pretty sure cost more than the contents of my suitcase. We showed up in denims, khakis and sweaters. I decided to wear my "Hot All-Bird Action" shirt, thinking it would be a good conversation starter (which it typically is at bird festival socials). That's Ben and I trying to blend in (above photo). Do you think it worked? What else can you do in that situation, but make the best of it? I always try to think, "What would Auntie Mame do? And that has yet to steer me wrong. We decided to enjoy some of the free whine and hors d'oeuvres and as we relaxed we started to mingle and met some really interesting people. One lady was the Vice President of Pratt & Whitney, one of the major sponsors of the festivals. Her company makes airplane engines--and I thought my job was fascinating. On top of that she was a pilot too. I would like to see what life is like from her shoes a day, it does sound like fun.
We later left for dinner and found a lovely little Chinese restaurant that served sushi. After we ate, our fortune cookies came out, and Joe was lucky enough to get two in one package (pictured, right--Joe looks as though he is not fully grasping the gravity of his double fortune cookie). I think the double fortune cookie bodes well for our success this trip not only in meeting new people but for birding as well. For example, when we ran into Jeff Bouton of Leica this afternoon, I asked if he could get me any new birds. He walked me to the river's edge and pointed to a great cormorant. Sweet, a new bird right away--Jeff is so good like that!
Right now I'm trying to debate about singing karaoke. We have it in our hotel at the Ship to Shore Bar and Restaurant. I can't seem to round anyone one up and I don't want to go down by myself. I should really get rested up anyway. We have long day ahead of us and I will also have a chance to meet Phil Donahue (I'm not even going to think about the possibility that Marlo Thomas might be with him--if she is I will just GEEK out). As if the chance to meet those two cool people weren't enough, but Dr. James Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winning biologist and head of the NIH Humane Genome Project will be here. I'm kind of curious to meet a man who had a movie made about his discovery and had Jeff Goldblum play his character (as I recall, he chewed some serious gum in the movie). I tell ya', birding leads me to some incredible people.
So, while I decide to sing or not to sing, I will ponder what I found on the back of the fortune in my fortune cookie. Feel free to ponder it along with me: