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Letter the Third (1994 for

The story continues. . .
  "Well," said Bucky, "What do you think?"
   Loie said, "About what?"
  "About this party."
  "I guess about the same as you do. It's a lot of work."
  "Yeah. I say next year we bag it. We don't get enough people. I want hundreds of people dancing and singing and partying all over the place. Like the field parties we used to have, you know?"
   And as they talked, Loie and Bucky decided not to continue their anniversary parties. But then they got some new ideas that changed their minds! So read on to the end of this year's story and you will find out what they decided to do. Loie and Bucky had already been having an eventful year. In early March, they had been walking their woods trail and seen the first robins of the year. March eighth brought the closest approach of the moon to the earth of the century, and the full Worm Moon the next night was as large as a full moon ever gets. Then, on the 12th and 13th, a blizzard with feet of snow!
   Rains melted the snow and McKeldin Falls in Patapsco was raging with tons of roaring water. The walk back around saw the trail turned to swamp. Spring had arrived.
   With the change of seasons came a new addition to Bucky and Loie's family. On April the 17th Bucky's sister Sarah and her husband Kent had a baby girl: Victoria. Yow! Mongo baby weighed 10 pounds and 15 ounces when born! A long labor left mother and child (and family and Bucky who were all in the birthing room) exhausted. The baby had to be assisted into the world and she was so big her shoulder was wrenched on the way out, resulting in a thankfully temporary paralysis of one arm. The paralysis wore off soon and now 'Torie is pulling herself up to stand by the furniture, and likes to paddle the water in the toilet bowl!
   Near the end of April, Bucky and Loie went on an evening walk in Morgan Run with the Bird Club to watch for woodcocks performing their mating flights. Some of the birders claimed that the walk was too late in the season and that no mating flights would be seen. They were right. But Yellow Rocket and Purple Dead Nettle (new wildflowers for the lifelist) were found. And Loie and Bucky saw the sun set four times that night. They watched it set behind the top of a grassy slope, walked up a little further until they could see the sun, watched it set again; four times in a row!
   Just a few weeks before their party, Bucky and Loie came home one evening to hear old Poco dog, who was getting a little feeble in her seventeenth year, crying. They rushed upstairs to rescue her (she was often trapped behind shoes in the closet, or stuck in the rungs of a chair these days) but no Poco was to be found. Loie was frantic. Then Bucky heard a pitiful whimper downstairs. He followed the noise into the basement and found Poco wandering in the crawl space under the playroom! She had pushed through the basket barrier in the bedroom doorway, tumbled all the way downstairs to the playroom, fallen through the little cat door at the top of the basement stairs, rolled down those stairs and crawled into the crawl space.
  "Well," said Bucky, when Poco had been restored to the safety of the bedroom, "If she had been trying, that stupid old dog couldn't have gotten any further from the bedroom and still been inside the house!" Loie was just glad that no worse had befallen her old friend.
   Now a great change came over Bucky and Loie's household. In August, Bucky's employer closed her office, and Bucky started a freelance business, working out of the house. The business is Lucky Productions, because Loie sometimes does freelance copywriting, so it's really Loie and Bucky Productions, so it's called Lucky Productions.
   Bucky said, "This is really weird. I don't see anybody or go out of this house for days. Are there still lots of people?"
  "Yes," said Loie, "And they're all in the library asking funny questions."
  "What was a good one today?"
  "Well, someone wanted to know where they could find the book that had the immortalization tables," said Loie, "but we don't have any of those!"
   Not even such an upheaval could keep them from going to the beach, so in the last week of August they headed down to Father's rented house in Southern Shores. As they were beginning to pack for the beach, Bucky said, "You know what? Dick Darcy never sent us any decoys. We have to go see him and give him a hard time!"
  "I was just thinking about that," said Loie.
  "Oh you were not! You always say that!"
  "I just know you by now, that's all."
   The next day, the day before leaving for the beach, a package arrived from Dick Darcy at the Waterfowl Shop containing a pair of bufflehead decoys, drake and hen!
  "Oh brother," cried Loie, "We just said no decoys and now there are decoys!"
  "But no bill. How much do they cost, I wonder?"
  "Well let's take them along and go ask Dick Darcy in person." So they did. But it wasn't to be as easy as they thought.
   Soon Loie and Bucky joined the family at the beach. Toshie and Nickie and Torie and Yo and Father and everyone was there. The ocean was freezing cold, but that didn't stop Toshie from swimming and ducking and talking and swallowing seawater!
  "Just like her mother Sarah," laughed Bucky. "She wouldn't come out of the ocean and got so cold her lips were blue. She'd be shaking cold but you still had to drag her out." Maybe the cold water was an omen, for after only a few days, the weather reports turned scary. Hurricane Emily was headed for the coast, and everyone had to evacuate the Outer Banks! Plans were made and rejected. Father wanted to stay. He only had a few days of beaching left before he had to return to work. Finally the plans were settled. Sarah called The Williamsburg Lodge and reserved two rooms. Father returned to Baltimore, staying on the beach until the afternoon of the evacuation. No one could leave in the morning, because there were so many cars on the Ocean Road the it was impossible to pull into traffic.
   But that afternoon all the family managed to get organized and out onto the highway. They spent two hot, lovely days traipsing about Colonial Williamsburg. "I've never been staying in a hotel before," said Toshie.
  "Well we're having a real adventure this year, that's for sure," said Bucky. "Yes, after a lot of grumpy business about going home and all," added Loie. Yo asked Loie, "Was he grumpy about the hurricane ruining his vacation?" Bucky said, "No, no, now we're having a great time!" Loie knew the truth but she just smiled.
   Loie and Bucky enjoyed the colonial print shop and bookseller, the ancient graves at Bruton Parish Church, and a delicious dinner at Shield's Tavern with Yo. Loie especially enjoyed a reenactment of a tavern debate, with actors portraying Williamsburg residents of the colonial period. Toshie liked being mature at the sumptuous brunches, and Nickie was excited by the fife and drum corps review on the Armory grounds. Sarah and Kent liked not cooking dinner, and everyone agreed that cocktail hour on the patio outside their adjoining rooms was a very nice way to be evacuees from a hurricane disaster.
  "But when can we go back to the beach?" wondered Nickie.
   The news reports told them that the hurricane had spared Southern Shores, and after two days in Williamsburg they returned to the beach. Bucky and Loie went down south to Rodanthe to visit their friend Dick Darcy at his shop, but poor Dick was not in a visiting mood. The hurricane had torn up his roof, and he was in the middle of repairing it, and the damage inside. When he saw them bring in a box, his face fell into a look of dismay.
  "Don't you want those decoys?" he asked.
  "Yes we do," said Bucky, "But you didn't send a bill! How much do they cost?"
   Soon all the details were straightened out, and Loie and Bucky learned that their new decoys were carved by Charles Fish of Chincoteague, a fowling guide who carves his own decoys and then, after a season or two of use, sells them to collectors. Now Charlie and Fish, a drake and hen Bufflehead, sit with Vic and Ellen Bird, the Wood Ducks, and Goldey, the Goldeneye drake. The short visit with Dick Darcy was not the end of the vacation. Soon the ocean water turned clear and warm, and many fine days were spent collecting wampum and playing on the beach and in the ocean waves. Yo and Loie and Bucky went north to Corolla and visited the Corolla Lighthouse. Now Bucky and Loie have seen four of the five Outer Banks lighthouses.
   Yo said, "I'll wait down here while you climb up. My old heart won't take it, I'm afraid."
  "OK," said Bucky, "You take our picture on the top, and we'll wave down at you!"
   Loie went back to the Outer Banks only one week after they had returned home! She visited her friends Audra, and Janice and Gren. They ate lots of fine fresh seafood prepared by Chef Gren, and Loie met some bird watchers who were at the annual meeting of the Carolinas Ornithological society. These friendly folks showed her some good bird spots, and now she is anxious to share them with Bucky. But not this year! Read on. . .
   In October, Loie's mother went to the hospital for back surgery. Her legs had been painful, and she was told that a collapsing disk was squeezing her nerves. The surgery was a success, and now she has no pain in her legs, and is out of all danger. But she is still not supposed to strain her back by climbing stairs, or pushing the vacuum cleaner. So Frank now does the laundry and vacuuming, but not as well as he should, so Eleanor is doing it anyway.
  "But it's the perfect excuse!," said Bucky.
  "Oh, I know," said Loie's mom, "But I can't stand to sit still all day while he gets to be up and about!"
   At about the same time, Bucky's sister Amy and her husband Frank came east from Lake Tahoe for a visit. They were on their way to New York for the wedding of a friend, and stayed at Yo's house in Glyndon for a few days. At dinner one night, Bucky and Sarah and Peter and Amy all posed for a picture in Yo's kitchen.
  "Boy," said Bucky, "this hardly ever happens anymore! All four kids together at once."
  "I know," said Yo as she took their picture. "And isn't it nice?" Everyone agreed that they wished they could all be together more often. November 17th was a sad day for Loie and Bucky. Their good old friend Poco passed away. She would have been eighteen years old that Christmas. Now Poco is buried in the yard at the entrance to the rabbit run she got lost in not so long ago. Loie was very sad when Poco died.
   Bucky said, "Now she's in dog heaven, in the Land of Fried Chickens." On Thanksgiving weekend, Loie and Bucky went to Piney Run Park to take a short hike by the lake and look for interesting birds. It was a successful expedition, for they saw a flock of Coots (and usually they only saw coots one at a time), Canvasback ducks and a new bird, Common Goldeneyes! "Now we have to get a mate for Goldey," said Bucky, meaning their Goldeneye decoy.
  "Yes," said Loie, "We'll call that carver soon and see what ever happened to our decoy that we ordered."
   On New Year's day, many friends and family members gathered at Loie and Bucky's house to enjoy a brunch of good-luck Hoppin' John, and help them plant their Christmas tree. And it was lucky that they piled lots of straw around the new tree, because two days later the Endless Big Freeze of '94 set in! Now it is February 21st, and Loie and Bucky have not driven up or down their driveway since the third of January. Both cars are parked out on the road. Groceries and supplies are dragged over the ice in a tub with a rope tied to the handle. The woodpile is dwindling; what is left is mostly encased in a permanent glacier and has to be chopped out with a pickaxe. Everyone is fervently praying for spring.
   And the best thing about the spring is that Bucky and Loie will see all of their friends and family at their Third Annual Anniversary Party Spring Festival and Gathering of the Tribes. (Now you have come to the promised information on the new party plans!). . .


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