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Letter the Second (1993 for

The story continues. . .
  "We didn't drink half of that keg of beer," said Bucky.
  "Not even half?"
  "Well, maybe more than half, but not much more."
   Loie and Bucky were looking over the house after their weekend-long first anniversary party.
  "It's not as bad a mess as I thought it would be," she said. Everyone had a great time, eating and drinking, visiting with old friends and making new ones, playing music and games. The hostess and host resolved to do it again next year.
   All that spring they worked in the yard, mowing and pruning and planting the shrubs and flowers brought to them by their friends. They worked on their woods trail. Bucky planted red clover over half of the yard. And by the summer, it was in full bloom.
   Bucky invited some old college friends of his to visit for the weekend. Some came all the way from Providence, Rhode Island, and some came up from Washington. They spent the whole day Saturday catching some rays, identifying the butterflies thronging the clover flowers, and dancing until midnight. Best of all, when the Providence friends arrived on Friday night, everyone had Caserta's famous pizza, baked that morning in Providence. "Is this the best pizza in the world, or what?" asked Bucky. After ten years of hearing about Caserta's pizza, Loie had to agree.
   On the first of August, close friends and family gathered to greet Loie's parents as they arrived at Lake Drive in a white stretch limousine, to help them celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The occasion inspired Loie's mother to write a poem, and her father, when asked to make a speech, said, "After 50 years of trying to get a word in edgewise, now that I have the chance, I can't think of anything to say!" So he just danced the afternoon away, on the patio, to the sound of a jazz trio.
   Then, at the end of the month, it was off to the beach! Loie and Bucky joined his Father in Southern Shores, on North Carolina's Outer banks, for two weeks. They had never been to the Outer Banks before (but Father had) and it was a treat. Just a few lots away from their house was a broad sandy beach, where they saw laughing gulls, sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, greater black-backed gulls, willets, lesser terns, brown pelicans, and ring-billed gulls. Ghost crabs scuttled and skittered on sand colored just like them. Bucky and Loie's favorite beach sight appeared day after day - schools of porpoises that leapt from the waves in arcs, and some that dove over and in front of waves, like surfers.
   Bucky's friend Kinley, his sister Sarah and his Mother had rented a house for themselves just a mile away. So Loie and Bucky walked up and down the beach visiting between the households, and collecting wampum shells. They found more wampum on that trip than they had ever found on all their beach trips put together, including the time they found the heap someone else had collected and abandoned. On an exploration trip driving down the coast, they stopped in a shop to hunt for a wood duck decoy. The shop owner gave them the name of a local carver who was a good wood duck maker. He also sold them a beautiful color photo of a skimming black skimmer that he had taken himself. Later that day they found some books for their home library (luckily Brother Pete was building more bookshelves for them while they were away), telling the local legends of the Outer Banks, and explaining the life of the most notorious Outer Bank resident, Blackbeard the Pirate. Blackbeard wore red ribbons in his beard, to make himself look ferocious. . . things really WERE different in the olden days! A few days later, Bucky and Loie met Vic Berg, the decoy carver, his wife Ellen and some friends and her parents. And instead of one decoy, they bought two--a beautiful pair of wood ducks, hen and drake.
   Sister Amy came from Lake Tahoe for the second beach week, bringing her skim board. Bucky and Loie watched her throw it on the sand, run after it, jump on for a ride, and somersault off into the surf. Whew! And on one day, they had an excitable ocean, with huge waves rolling and crashing on the beach. They all went in hand-in-hand, screaming "HIT THE BEACH!" and diving under the waves. So everyone had a great time, but when Amy and Loie and Bucky had to return to Glyndon all together, their car was so packed with beach chairs and skim boards and surf mats and books and pictures that there was hardly room to fit in the people!
   On the weekend they returned from the beach, Bucky's sister Sarah was married, in a lovely garden ceremony, at Mother's house in Glyndon. Sister Sarah married Kent Thrower, who grew up on a big old farm in Pennsylvania. Now all the nieces and nephews get to visit a real working farm, which is especially thrilling because they can ride on a tractor!
   Spurred on by their purchase of wood duck decoys, Bucky and Loie now got on a real wildfowl kick. They took the Fathers to the Easton Waterfowl Festival, where they saw their new friends the Bergs. The Fathers spent an enjoyable hour listening to barbershop quartet singing. Then, in the photography exhibit, who should Loie and Bucky see displaying photographs for sale but their friend Dick Darcy, the owner of the shop in Rodanthe on the Outer Banks who had introduced them to the Bergs! Loie bought a black and white print of a screaming bald eagle and Bucky framed it for her office at work.
   And the wildfowl fall continued. For the Thanksgiving weekend, the bird lovers went to a bed and breakfast on Chincoteague Island. The daughter of the owner was reading in the den when they arrived, and Loie asked her what she was reading. The little girl held up a copy of Misty of Chincoteague. This led to the discovery that Marguerite Henry had written Misty of Chincoteague in that very house. They spent a lot of time in the refuge, looking at birds close up that posed patiently for photographers, and watching the "wild" ponies stick their heads in cars to beg for food. At a carving show being held that weekend, they bought a golden-eye drake decoy.
   Throughout their visit to the refuge, they kept hearing reports of a black swan that had been sighted in different parts of the refuge. On their last day at the refuge, Loie was looking out at a scattering of birds on the water through a shimmer of haze when she said, "What's that bird? Look! Ha ha ha! I found it!"
  "C'mon" said Bucky, putting his binoculars to his eyes. "Oh, brother. . . I don't believe it. You found the Black Swan of Chincoteague, all right. And on the last hour of the trip!"
   Loie said, "Somebody painted one black."
  "Well, maybe," said Bucky.
   Tonight, snow is resting lightly on last year's Christmas tree, planted on New Year's Day. Loie and Bucky know that even though the trees are bare and snow covers the earth, soon the sun will be calling forth buds and flowers, and the goldfinches will change their olive drab colors for golden feathers. And that means Bucky and Loie are inviting you to join them for this year's weekend anniversary party.


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