This holiday weekend, like many of you, I took time to reflect on the countless reasons I’m thankful and on the friends and family that I love so dearly.
I realized I could not write another word in the blog without taking time to share how very grateful I am for this man, the love of my life.
Nineteen years ago, on Thanksgiving Day, Paul and I headed from Maryland up to northern New Jersey to spend the holiday with my parents. The weekend ahead was sure to be an exciting one for us, as our wedding was only a short four weeks away. Despite being up to our ears in preparations for the big day, we couldn’t resist the urge to make a stop en route from Maryland and attempt to see a snowy owl that had been reported in Lewes, Delaware. TEN YEARS my nemesis bird, the time had finally come to seal the deal on the snowy. I had been pulling out all the stops to see this bird even before I could drive. Several trips to the Jersey shore with friends and long excursions up to New York State ended with no luck— every. single. time. The owl had been seen the day before I was there and the day after. Always.
Prior to this day, my most memorable snowy owl attempt took place on Long Beach Island with my friend Laurie in the early 90’s. We walked the Jersey shoreline a mile and a half in subzero temperatures with wind, sleet, snow, freezing rain and sand blowing in our faces. I recall peering behind me, looking out through a tunnel of scarves, neck warmers and ear warmers to see how far we’d walked. Between the layers of frozen sand, snow, and sleet encrusting my eyelashes, I could just barely make out the sight of mysterious yellow flakes of plastic flying through the air behind me. Puzzled, I wondered what in the world they could be. Laurie and I both soon realized, I had tested the limits of my rain shell’s capabilities as demonstrated by it freezing, breaking off my body, and vanishing in the wind. These conditions would surely make any snowy owl feel right at home. But we hung our heads low as we trudged back to our car, no owl in sight. (Although I do suspect we looked right at him and couldn’t see him through the foul weather, while he watched and laughed all the while.) On the ride home, we convinced ourselves that every difficult step that day, through less than ideal conditions, just meant the moment we actually DID see the owl would be that. much. sweeter.
Several years later, here I stood on Thanksgiving Day on the beach in Lewes. At Paul’s side, while clasping my hands together and letting out a squeal of delight, I feel to my knees after my scope revealed to me the treasure I had been seeking for SO many years. I knew that spending this unbelievably special moment with the man I was about to marry was something I would never forget. My eyes welled up with tears. To me it was all a sign. My long search for the snowy owl was over, as was my search for just the right person with whom to spend the rest of my life. I was on top of the world. I had finally found them both.
This year I am particularly grateful for Paul and his unconditional support for me in ALL that I do, as a mom, as an educator and as a lover of the natural world. Paul has not wavered ONCE in his offer to take care of the infinite amount of laundry, dishes, carpools and everything else that goes along with raising three wonderful children, while I navigate a new job and my Mommy Big Year. I feel so blessed and so fortunate. I know not to take one ounce of this for granted and that I am one VERY lucky girl. 🙂