I took this photograph in New Jersey in February, so don't any of you birders have palpitations about there being a Meadowlark here this early.We do have them in Maine, though I've never seen one here. They feed on the ground in fields and are sometimes flushed if one is walking out in a meadow. When the snow comes, they head south for open fields to feed, though on rare occasion, they have been spotted in south western Maine in the winter. The bird in this photograph is an Eastern meadowlark. The white malar or jaw area is what differentiates it from a Western meadowlark. Oddly, Meadowlarks aren't larks at all, but rather Icterids. Sometimes called Meadow starlings, they are in the same family as, you guessed it: starlings, cowbirds and Red-winged blackbirds.
When I identified the pink Thunderbird as a 1963 model, that wasn't a lark either. I research subjects before I post about them. But this time, I assumed that model year based on the registration tag. I know that the number could be the birth date of the owner or one of his family members, or a random DMV pick or just plain a mistake. However, those possibilities seem less likely than that it's the year the car was made. Surprisingly, it wasn't as easy to verify the model year of that vehicle as I would have thought. In this case, as it's a car, I don't really care enough to spend more time on that, either. If the bird were feathered, I'd go to the ends of the earth, even risk humiliation by revealing my ignorance to get at the truth. Apparently, on identification, car buffs are quicker to shoot from their hips than birders are. The VIN has a code for the year (see this link for breaking that code). If I were willing to risk arrest for trespassing, I could pull the tarp off and look for that and other identifying features, but I'm not in the mood for jail time just now. I have provided an additional photograph showing the registration tag and a few more features of the car. As a photographer, not a car person, I took shots of what was interesting to me, but not necessarily what will clarify the matter for an automobile aficionado. I also blurred out the letters for the privacy of the owner. Had the Tbird been avian, I would have photographed it from every angle - lights, chrome trim, coverts, vents, seats, tail and all, arrest and privacy be damned.
A few years ago, a friend I'll call 'Marge' asked me to go with her on a walk. A sedentary person, Marge rarely went for walks and yet more rarely, asked me to go with her. I was immediately suspicious that the walk was a ruse. As we strolled along, Marge babbled endless small talk. Her tedious minutiae bored me to death, but I resisted the urge to ask her if she wanted to talk to me about something in particular. I waited for her as she struggled up a little incline. Huffing and puffing, she stopped then put both hands on her knees to catch her breath. Straightening up, she suddenly covered her face with her hands and burst into tears. Between great heaving sobs she gasped for air. I did not reach out to her; she would come to it by herself if I left her alone. "Oh, good God! Please forgive me!" Marge wailed. "I've done something just terrible! I'm in so much trouble, oh god," she moaned. I was about to ask what she had done, but I didn't need to. "You know the computer that my son gave to me for Christmas? The one for e mailing the kids?" I nodded. "Well, I've ruined it! Totally ruined it!" I asked how on earth she could have ruined it, "did you spill coffee on it or something?" "No, no, I....... I didn't spill anything," she looked away and took a few steps. Marge had been quite proud of herself for mastering certain elements of the computer. She had learned to do e mail and even do a little internet surfing. Beaming like a teenager learning to drive, she regularly called to boast about some new thing she had learned to do. "So, what happened to it," I asked her. Thinking that now, she didn't want to tell me what had happened, I listened as she started rambling about her daughter's upcoming wedding. Giving her the space she seemed to want, I asked what she was planning to wear. She told me the details of a pink dress. She sniffled. "And that's what's got me into all this trouble!" "The pink dress?" I asked. "No, no, the lipstick. It was the lipstick." While I imagined a tube of lipstick melted onto a computer keyboard and the trouble that would cause, Marge told me about a particular lipstick which she wanted to go with her dress. "I just haven't been able to find that exact same shade anywhere. I've looked and I've looked hard, too! I've looked every where, at all the department stores, but nobody's got it!" She went on, "It's the perfect shade for me, too. Everybody says I look great when I'm wearing that, so it's got to be that and I really want it!" Her petulant side steamed out. When I asked the name of the manufacturer, she explained that it was a custom blend from a kiosk in a Florida mall. That made her search difficult. Marge said "So, I thought, hey! I'll look on the internet! I know how to do that! I went on line and typed in the color, 'Fantasy Pink,' then that's when all the trouble started!" She started to cry again, covering her face. I groaned, immediately imaging what 'the trouble' may have been. "Oh, god, you didn't. What happened," I asked her. "Well, I hit enter and suddenly there was a giant penis on the screen! It was huge! And then little blocks started filling in around it with all different penises until the whole screen was filled with penises! Then, the big one started gushing silver glitter!" She was looking at me now, and in her watery eyes I could see an excited twinkle. "I didn't know what to do; I kept hitting keys to make it stop, but it wouldn't. Delete, delete, delete but I couldn't get it to close! So, I panicked and pulled the plug out of the wall! That was three days ago and I haven't touched the computer since. My son is just going to kill me," she trailed off. Laughing, I told her "Oh, Marge! Don't worry about that; the computer isn't broken. It may take a little clean-up so you don't keep getting porn sites every time you go on the internet, but it's not broken. Everybody does that at least once!" This wasn't totally honest, but it was one of those reflexive equalizing remarks a person makes when listening to another's troubles. As I said it, I realized I had never actually done anything like that myself. Shyly, and looking away, Marge continued. "Uh, well, I might not have shut it off fast enough." "What do you mean" I asked her. Now talking into her coat sleeve, Marge said "I watched it for longer than what I said. I didn't shut it off that fast; I kind of liked it." Then, I just howled with laughter until I had tears in my eyes, too.
Yesterday, when I commenced with research to identify the model year of the Thunderbird, I found out that what I called 'pink,' Ford calls 'Samoan Coral.' I found it surprisingly harder than expected to get information on vintage Tbirds and their manufacture years. I didn't want to spend a lot of time on it, either and became quite frustrated. In my haste, I typed in the Google search "Thunderbird dating." I'm not going to even tell you what came up on my computer screen! It's true what they say, "To each, his day will come."