I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in birds. My most cherished childhood possessions were a pair of binoculars and the first edition of Roger Tory Peterson’s “A Field Guide to Western Birds.” My mother claims that my first word as a toddler was “bird.” Whether this was part of the family mythology or not, my parents were also enthusiastic supporters of my budding interests.
Before coming to Santa Barbara, I had the good fortune to become deeply rooted in two places. I grew up in the Oakland hills where I was close to Trestle Glen Creek, and a bike’s ride from Lake Merritt, a refuge for wintering waterfowl. Soon after college at UC Berkeley, my husband and I built a small redwood house in the Berkeley Hills where we raised our three children. We were near Tilden Regional Park and a block from the open lands above the university. It was pure heaven with all the raptors and even the possibility of an occasional mountain lion. I lived in that house for almost 62 years surviving the deaths of two husbands and a dear companion. Nature was always my solace. Along with the pleasure of birds, I understood and loved the changing seasons, the winds, the grasslands, and the distant views over the Bay.
But the time came in my mid-eighties to leave that house on that beloved hillside and move closer to two of my children in Santa Barbara. I moved into a retirement community, happily located next to Mission Creek and Oak Park. Now I am learning a new place with mountains instead of hills, an ocean close by instead of the distant shores of San Francisco Bay. Still, it is the coast of California — just a different, drier, more southerly one.