Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 25, 2014

Old Sam Peabody has Sunday tune

By JEFF WILSON, Ledger publisher | May 03, 2012

I’m no birdwatcher, but early last Sunday morning the call of the white-throated sparrow was unmistakable.

As a kid, my mom played birdcall records nonstop. Birdwatchers use something called mnemonics to mimic the cadence and syllables of bird songs.

So instead of whistling the call of the white-throated sparrow, birdwatchers hear: “O-old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.” I’m not making this up. It’s what birdwatchers do when they spend too much time in the woods by themselves.

Go ahead, quiz me. I know what bird sings, “Drop it, drop it, pick it up, pick it up,” “pleased, pleased, pleased to meet cha,” and an easy one, “chickadee-dee-dee.”

Last Sunday, I got up at 7 a.m. to move my car out of a parking garage in downtown Oak Park, Ill. Lucy and I went to visit Anna at her new apartment in the closest suburb west of Chicago.

There’s no overnight street parking for non-residents, so I parked in a garage three blocks from her place after the White Sox game. It costs $15 for more than 10 hours in the garage. I think I saved $13 by getting up and moving it to a street space.

As soon as I walked out of the lobby door, “O-old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” hit me like a golden oldie. The kids weren’t as excited as I was.

They were planning a quick tour of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s early 1900s studio that was only a few blocks away. It was amazing how many people were interested in the same tour on a Sunday morning. The city always has surprises like that.

But birdcalls are today’s topic. Last month, my mom ordered a new birdcall CD from Fairfield’s Diane Porter, who makes bird watching a business.

Even at her age, my mom was excited to put the new CD in her Bose Wave player. It was hard for me to relate.

“It’s no different than your baseball books you buy every spring,” said Mom.

She’s right. It’s no different.

Every spring, the “Baseball America Prospect Handbook” appears on the sports shelf at Barnes & Noble. My heart starts racing and I plop down my $30. The book gives detailed information on the top 30 minor-league players for every team.

A short walk to the magazine racks and I get just as goofy about seeing the new “Who’s Who in Baseball.” That one has career statistics for all the players in Major League baseball. Another $12 goes down on the counter.

Wednesday, my mom told me about one of her friends whose purple martins didn’t return to a house on her property because a neighbor built a newer, nicer home for them.

Those purple martins can be a fickle bunch.

 

Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Fairfield Ledger.

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