Letter the Seventh (1998 for

“That was one gigantic truck, all right,” said Bucky.
   “Oh, brother, was it ever,” said Loie.
   The Lovebunnies were cleaning up after the Anniversary party. They were talking about the truck that Brother Pete’s band, Detour, which had provided the musical entertainment for the party, brought to haul in all their equipment. “I don’t think the guys who moved us in here had a bigger truck,” said Bucky.
   Loie laughed, and said, “No, I bet they didn’t. But they didn’t play such good music, either.”
   Bucky agreed, and said, “I especially liked it when they played The City of New Orleans.” That song is one of the Lovebunnies’ favorites. They almost always sing it together whenever they are driving on a long trip.
   The Lovebunnies’ year had begun quietly enough. New Year’s parties had been threatened by the traditional icing over of the lane, but a judicious application of salt (Bucky doesn’t like to use too much salt on the Inner Slope, as it might leach down into Lucky Run) had cleared the drive.
   In February, they accompanied Nephew Brian and his friend to Center Stage to see Romeo and Juliet.
   “We’ve just been reading this in English class,” said Brian as they all were driving downtown. That coincidence added to the fun of a night out on the town. And after the play, they all attended a Meet the Players gathering to meet and talk with the actors about the play, and about acting. Brian, who had been acting in his school’s drama club (and whom Loie and Bucky had seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as Aide Warren) was especially excited and asked many questions of the players.
   A few days later, Brother Pete came to help Bucky fix up the big old oak coffee table. “Actually,” Bucky told Loie, “He’s going to do all the work. I’m going to stand around and maybe do something he tells me to.”
   “What made you want to fix this old thing?” asked Pete. “It’s been busted like this for years.”
   “Decades,” said Bucky. “I need it for the Beggar’s Banquet.” Of course, Brother Pete had the tabletop fixed good as new in no time, and Bucky’s plan was in motion. The Valentine’s Party was to be a Beggar’s Banquet this year. Bucky put the table top on low blocks of wood in the dining room. It was only a few inches off the floor. Loie brought home round loaves of bread from the bakery, and Bucky sliced them into two inch thick rounds. He put the round slices out to dry and become stale. The night of the party, Bucky roasted game hens and vegetables and garlics, and made delicious sauce from the drippings. When the friends had all gathered around the low table, it was time for the climax of the plan.
   As Hilary and Mark and Amy and Mike Lee and the Peelings all watched in astonishment, Bucky brought out the pans of birds and potatoes and garlics and dumped all of them right together in the middle of the thick oak table! Everyone was laughing and applauding the fine show as the Beggar’s Banquet was under way. They ate seated and reclining on cushions on the floor, without any utensils, using the slices of stale bread as their plates. “I’ve wanted to do that for forever,” said Bucky. “And now I have.”
   But later that month there began some discombobulation. Bucky had finally managed to locate his old school pal King Dietz, who was, as rumor had had it, living in Scotland. Bucky had searched on the Internet, and found a reference that he thought might be King’s father. It was King’s father, and soon Bucky was speaking to King himself in Scotland!
   The Lovebunnies were happy to have found King again, because this gave them an idea. Long ago, they had been planning to travel through England and Scotland visiting ancient megalithic monuments. And now here was a chance to visit an old friend and “Drive the Stone Age” as they had been hoping to do for years. It was difficult making plans with King, as his work took him from home for weeks at a time, and often on short notice. But they all persevered. Transatlantic phone calls proliferated. Loie began to check her schedule at work, and it seemed that the Lovebunnies would be able to travel abroad in the late spring or early summer. Loie and Bucky even decided that they would forgo the beach that year in favor of Driving the Stone Age.
   Then the Lovebunnies’ luck seemed to desert them. There were a few weeks in May or June that seemed to work with King’s schedule, as far as he knew it, but Loie had to be at work to supervise a big renovation project. The date for the project began to be pushed later and later, and King was going to be busy, and the weather in Great Britain would be worse as the year wore on. After weeks, then two months of being forestalled again and again by the uncertainty of the start time for Loie’s big project, Loie and Bucky finally had to give up. There just wasn’t any time when all of them could get together.

   “And now we have no beach house,” said Loie. They knew that since they hadn’t signed up for a house early in the year, there would be no good houses left for rent so late in the year.
   “Phewph,” said Bucky. “This just didn’t work at all! I don’t know if we’ll have a trip this year or what.” But of course, the Lovebunnies should have trusted in their Lovebunny luck, and had more faith. Read on and you’ll find out why!
   On the last day of March, Loie and Bucky consoled themselves for the loss of their vacation with a trip to Shenk’s Ferry to visit the wildflowers. As they were driving into the preserve, they were caught in a magnificent thunderstorm, the first long awaited herald of spring. And when it had passed, they walked the familiar trail and saw flowers at every hand: Dutchman’s Breeches, Spring Beauty, Trout Lily all mottled, Saxifrage and Virginia Bluebells just purpling and sparkling with raindrops greeted them, welcoming spring. “I’m glad we came,” said Loie. “The rain only made it exciting.”
   It was only two weeks later that their old Prov pal Roger Farren came to Baltimore for a visit. “Seventy-nine dollars round trip, Buck,” Roger had said on the phone. “I can’t pass it up.”
   “Well, Rog,” said Bucky, “You always were a cheap date.”
   “Well, Buck,” said Roger, “I guess I haddah be if you were paying.” Bucky laughed and acknowledged that Roger had gotten him once again.
   Saturday the twelfth found the Lovebunnies, Roger, Brother Pete and his wife Terrie, their friends Renée and Duane and most of Hanover at KClinger’s Tavern. It was “Fight Night” at the pub. Loie and Bucky had never been on a weekend. The place was packed, “cheek to jowl” as Loie later noted in her journal.
   “Boy, Rog,” Bucky yelled over the noise of the crowd, “If I’d eaten one more Wimpy Skimpy for lunch, I’d have been too fat to fit in here.” The Lovebunnies were sorry to see their pal Roger leave the next day, but he promised to return soon.
   And just two weeks after that, Loie and Bucky were celebrating Bucky’s birthday. It was a joint party, for their good friend Susan Mannion has her birthday the day before Bucky’s. Many friends and relations had gathered to wish the birthday twins well. Even Cathi and Robin, just moved back to Annapolis from Colorado, were there. But Bucky was all disgruntled by the rain that threatened his grilling and the campfire planned for the evening.
   Oh, Bucky, you should trust more. For that birthday both Bucky and Susan were given a lovely present, and it was the same one for each of them. The rain had let up for a few minutes, and Bucky popped out onto the deck to begin lighting the grill fire. Wild clouds over the woods were gilded by the lowering sun, and suddenly Bucky rushed back into the playroom, where all the guests were enjoying the party, calling “Come outside, come outside, quick!”
   When everyone had trooped out, they saw that just for her special birthday, Susan had gotten a magnificent double rainbow, arching from treetop to treetop, glowing bright as the setting sun. “It’s perfect,” said Yo.
   “I’ve never seen a better one,” said Bucky, “Not even at the beach.” And all the guests admired Susan’s present.
   Soon Bucky had the grill started, but rain came again, driving all indoors once more. Bucky was grumbling and rumbling, and Loie tried to cheer him up. “We’re having a good party,” she said. “Just never mind the weather.” Of course Bucky the perfectionist “minded” it. But there was nothing to be done. And of course, the rain passed over in a few minutes, the capped grill was hot, and everything was set to go once more. Then it happened. Bucky went out on the wet deck to check the fire, and yes, for his birthday present, and just to make the day the best birthdays party ever, another rainbow was shining over the woods, and it was a double rainbow, too. “Oh, no!” shouted Bucky, and everyone had to rush out to see what was the matter. What they saw was the second rainbow!
   Loie hugged Bucky and smiled at him. “See?” she said.
   Yo and Susan and everyone were happy that Bucky had gotten a rainbow too, and all agreed that it must mean a very special year ahead for both the birthday folks, for no one could remember ever having seen a double double rainbow day before. “I’m a lucky boy,” said Bucky, and Loie agreed that they were both lucky to be Lovebunnies at Bucky’s Folly.
   Then, before they knew it, it was time for the Anniversary Party. May seventeenth dawned with the traditional Anniversary Party Day Overcast. “It’s a darn good thing Mark brought over his awning,” grumbled Bucky. Loie just smiled, because she knew that every Anniversary Party day had to be just like their wedding day, with rain in the morning, and sun in the afternoon. And of course she was right. By the time guests began to gather, the sun was out, and Mark’s awning was used chiefly to hold the piñata that the kids broke open on the second try!

   Detour got under way in the late afternoon sun, and the party was in full swing. The music was interrupted for a bit while the last Ritual Adoration of the Wedding Cake and Champagne Toast was held. After the toast, the band kicked back in, and Bucky led all the kids down to the edge of the lawn where they threw bits of the cake into the woods while Bucky chanted, “With this cake, we send our love, to bless the land. Let it be fruitful, and many things live and grow here, and be happy.” Soon the cake was all gone, blessing the land, and the kids went back to playing and eating piñata candy, and it was time to start the campfire and cook the goulash.
   “OK,” announced Bucky, “I promise the goulash won’t be too spicy this year.” He was true to his word, and all the guests had their fill of goulash and all the delicious food from the potluck and the grill as the dark gathered over the lawn and woods of Bucky’s Folly.
   The next month, the Lovebunnies’ friends Hilary and Mark decided to rescue them from being vacationless, and took them on a trip to Pennsylvania to see Fallingwater, the famous house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. “But he built the house right over their favorite picnic rock,” Bucky exclaimed after the tour. Hilary laughed and told them all about Wright’s famous arrogance in designing, and promised to give Bucky a copy of The Fountainhead. “That will explain all about him,” said Hilary. The friends all agreed that though the spot was beautiful, they would prefer not to live in the rather dark and cramped house itself. But even with Hilary and Mark’s help, the Lovebunnies couldn’t outdo their friend Elizabeth as travelers. Just a few days before they left for Fallingwater, Loie and Bucky received a postcard from their peripatetic friend: a view of Fallingwater! “If we saved all the postcards we got from Traveling Elizabeth,” said Bucky, “We’d fill the house!”
   At the end of the month, the first of the long-discussed En Plein Aire Life Drawing sessions was held in the Lovebunnies’ front yard. Model Joan Jenkins posed for six artists, Bucky among them. Joan posed for several hours, and after the drawing session everyone enjoyed a delicious picnic supper of grilled tuna and chicken.
   The Fourth of July found Loie and Bucky at Yo’s house for the famous Glyndon Parade. It was a particularly fine Fourth. Kinley was visiting from California with new baby Kell. Niece Torrie and Kell enjoyed the wading pool while the grownups enjoyed steamed crabs. The very next day the Lovebunnies managed to get out for a hike.
   They walked the Hemlock Gorge Circuit along the north branch of the Gunpowder Falls. On the drive across Baltimore County to the trailhead, they stopped at an historical marker that told about Mr. Hoffmann, the first papermaker in Maryland. And on the hike they passed the Hoffmann family graveyard. In the graveyard there were several fine headstones for the older generations, and some curious uncut stones, too. “Are these just natural?” wondered Loie. The stones were certainly local rocks, but they were set upright, and looked as if they had been placed.
   “I bet these are marking slave burials,” said Bucky. “They put something here to mark them, but the cheapest they could use.”
   The hike so far had been gently uphill through old woods, but now they went down toward the river, and came out on level ground along the Gunpowder. “Whoa,” said Bucky, as they pushed their way through masses of prickery weeds that scratched at their legs and arms. “The hike book says this stuff is called perfoliate tearthumb. Tear your butt off is more like it!” But in a very short time the trail headed up a bit, still running along the river, onto ledges of rock in a beautiful gorge all covered on top with ancient hemlocks.
   “Ah hah,” said Bucky, “At last the famous Hemlock Gorge.” It was a lovely spot, with bright sun streaming down over the low cliffs, and the sound of wind rushing softly through the trees mingling with that of the river over the rocks.
   “I think we’re walking this trail backwards,” said Loie as she studied the trail book once more, “But I like doing it this way. We’ve saved the best for last.”
   July 14th was a very important day for the Lovebunnies. It was the birth day of their new Nephew Siegfried Wohlfahrt, Sister Amy and Brother Frank’s first baby! “Well, I wonder…” said Bucky as he told Loie the exciting news.
   She laughed and said, “No, no no, Uncle Bucky,” knowing full well that he would try to tease her.
   “You sure?” said Bucky. And they both smiled, remembering that it had been after Sister Amy’s wedding that Bucky had proposed, saying that since all the other Brothers and Sisters were married, maybe it was time for them to marry, too.
   The weekend of July 28th was an arts weekend for the Lovebunnies. That Saturday was the second En Plein Aire Life Drawing session. Joan Jenkins posed once more, and the drawing sessions were followed by a picnic supper and a campfire! The next day Loie and Bucky and Hilary and Mark and Brother Pete and Terrie and Brian and Alyssa all gathered at the Gunpowder Falls to beat the heat. Terrie and Hilary walked downriver from Loie and Bucky’s usual spot a little bit, and found a beautiful sitting spot at a bend in the river. A stream entered right there, falling down over broad shelves of rock into a pool at the river’s edge. Shingly rocks made a bar just outside the pool, and the river water over the bar was only an inch deep, perfect for putting down lawn chairs and chaise lounges to catch the breeze as it blew over the cool water.

   Everyone had fun building a sculpture of stones, a tower rising out of the deeper water at the end of the bar. Loie and Bucky lingered on the river after all their friends had taken their leave. They watched the mist rising off cool water as the sun set. “Natural air conditioning,” said Bucky. “That’s the way to beat the heat,” said Loie.
   To cap off the arts weekend, the Lovebunnies went to a poetry reading Monday evening at the Reader’s Cafe Bookstore. They heard nine poets read original works. One of them was Mark Stone, who had been at the Lovebunnie’s first anniversary party!
   It was the next month that Loie began an art adventure of her own. Hilary asked her if she would be one of the contributors to a new column being planned for publication in the Carroll County Times, and Loie agreed. So August saw the debut of Loie as an “Art Matters” columnist, with the publication of “Creativity.”
   Yo was anxious to travel to Donner to see Sister Amy and Frank’s new baby. “But I’m afraid to go up the mountain all by myself,” said Yo. “What would happen if my angina acted up?” Since the Lovebunnies had no beach vacation planned, Yo asked if they would go to Donner with her. She wanted to go in September, after her beach vacation with Sister Sarah and Brother Kent. Loie and Bucky thought that a capital idea, and began planning a western adventure.
   At first, Bucky wanted to travel about to find medicine wheels. He searched the library and the Web to find out places to go. “I’m having no darn luck at all,” he told Loie. “The folks who know about these places are hiding them.”
   “I don’t blame them for that,” said Loie. “Those are fragile things. It would be so easy for a few vandals to destroy them. I know what we can do. We never did get to Chaco Canyon on our honeymoon. Let’s go there.” So they began to plan in earnest, and soon the time had flown and they were on their way!
   The first stop was in Albuquerque, to spend the night with Loie’s Cousin Pat and her husband Bill. They gathered their family for a night out and Mexican food. The well-fed Lovebunnies got to bed early, and were up the next day and off on their trip. They drove through seemingly arid plains and badlands to Farmington, New Mexico, where they stayed four four days, taking trips to see ancient Native American ruins. That night, they were amazed to be shaken by a fierce thunderstorm, with howling wind, and lightning crashing all around. “Whoa, some desert!” said Bucky, as a bright bolt streaked the clouds just above their hotel window. “I bet we’re having their whole year’s worth of rain today,” said Loie.
   It was almost true. The next morning, in spite of some people’s advice against it, they decided to push out to Chaco Canyon. They were told that the miles of clay dirt road leading into the ruin would be treacherously slick. Bucky shrugged as he said, “Well, if it’s bad, we’ll just come back. Can’t be worse than the Road After Hana.” The Lovebunnies were glad they decided to persevere. It was a harrowing road, the clay dirt was slick as wet ice for long stretches. But careful going brought them to the canyon at last, where they saw a succession of magnificent pueblos and kivas, including the famous Pueblo Bonito. “I don’t know,” said Loie. “I don’t feel any people here.”
   “No,” said Bucky, “They’ve been gone way too long. It’s a dead place. But it’s neat to see, see how they built and all the roads and organisation. They were busy when they were here.” But the Lovebunnies soon found that time may not have been the reason for the lack of spirit in Chaco Canyon. The next day, they traveled from Farmington to Hovenweep, in Utah. Here they found a perfect place. A small canyon was dotted from head to end with unique little ruins. None were larger than a few rooms wide, or taller than three short stories. The stonework was different on each; some were perched on the little canyon’s rim, some nestled into depressions on its sparsely forested floor. One had even been built into a strangely hollowed boulder.
   “This is beautiful,” said Loie. “I can feel people here.”
   “You know what I think this is,” said Bucky. “This is where the hippies lived.” Loie shook her head, wondering. “Sure,” said Bucky, “Like an artist’s colony. And then a couple of times a year they trucked down to Chaco to sell the dream-catchers and rattles and all the stuff they’d made that year.”
   “I think it was a resort,” said Loie. “This is where the rich people came to get away in the nice weather.” Bucky laughed, and said, “Well, maybe so. But it’s a much nicer place than the big hives down in Chaco Canyon, for sure.”
   The Lovebunnies continued their Anasazi tour the next day by visiting Mesa Verde. They climbed a huge log ladder and crawled through a tunnel into Balcony House, a small cliff ruin tucked under the brow of the cliff 600 feet above the floor of Soda Canyon. After this vertiginous tour, they hiked a trail down the canyon to see petroglyphs. This was one of Bucky’s favorite sights of the whole trip. According to modern Hopi interpretations, the carvings told the story of the Hopi migration on Earth. A long line wandered over the cliff face; that was the path the tribes followed. Figures showed the various tribes stopping, leaving the migration along the way. Then, the figure of the Lizard spirit appeared, and bewitched the remaining tribes so that they “wandered aimlessly, as if they were insane.” The carved line of the path became all wiggly! But rescue from their madness came in the form of the Whipping Kachina, after whose appearance the path was straight as could be. Bucky laughed and laughed as they read the story in their guide pamphlet. “That’s just the greatest thing. The Whipping Kachina! We better not tell Yo about that old Whipping Kachina, she might get ideas.”

   It seemed all too soon that the Lovebunnie’s Anasazi explorations were over, but more adventure was in store as they headed for Redwood City, near San Francisco, to Kinley and Paul’s house. Yo was there when they arrived, and after one night visiting with K and P, Loie and Yo and Bucky headed up into the Sierra Nevada mountains to Olympic Valley, and Sister Amy and Brother Frank’s house on the shore of Lake Donner. Yo was fine as they drove through Sacramento and the arid landscape of the Valley. Soon they were passing through the Tahoe National Forest, high in the mountains. No one had any problems adjusting to the thin, cool mountain air, and Sister Amy greeted them happily on their arrival that afternoon. Of course Yo and the Lovebunnies were all excited to meet new Baby Siggi. Yo was so excited that she got a bit sick to her stomach that evening. “Maybe there is a little reaction to the mountain air,” said Loie.
   “Maybe Yo shouldn’t have eaten that gigantic greasy hamburger for lunch,” said Bucky. That evening, Loie and Bucky walked along the lake shore, and enjoyed the brilliant stars over the mountains. A long sleep had everyone feeling better in the morning. After some more visiting, the Lovebunnies left Yo with Amy and Frank and Siggi, and continued their Western adventure, driving a scenic route through the mountains back to Redwood City for the urban part of their vacation.
   They visited with Kinley and Paul and Baby Kell for several days, and traveled about in San Francisco. They saw Fisherman’s Wharf and rode the cable cars across the city to eat Dim Sum lunch. “This is a great way to eat,” said Bucky. “You get to have a little bit of everything. But it took me a minute to figure out exactly how it works.”
   They saw the Chinatown Gate, and funny, twisty Lombard Street. Of course the famous fog rolled in, right on schedule, as they drove out of town on a scenic route past the Golden Gate Bridge. The next day the Lovebunnies drove down the coast to Monterey and the Big Sur. They drove through Pebble Beach, along a beautiful seaside road. Yo had told them that this was a place to see otters. Although they saw beechy ground squirrels begging for treats, and sea lions sunning on surf washed rocks, and sea gulls stealing picnickers’ potato chips, white sand and blue water, after many stops there had been no sign of sea.
   otters. Bucky was growing disappointed when Loie remembered his Want. “Bucky,” she said, “You haven’t had a Want this trip.”
   “Wow,” said Bucky, “Right! I forgot to make a Want. OK…I Want to see sea otters.” The next vantage point along the road was Pescadero Point, last stop on the drive through Pebble Beach. Loie later wrote in her trip diary:

We pulled into Pescadero Point, walked over to the cliff edge, pointed our binoculars down, and saw…SEA OTTERS! B was ecstatic. There were many otters, in groups and alone. Some were on their backs, with a stone on their chests, cracking open shells for food. One group just tumbled in the ocean. We also heard an otter calling out to other otters, which then came to him. It sounded like a bird—“wheep! wheep! wheep!”—but we could see his mouth moving. B said, “Thank you, Yo.”

It seemed to Loie and Bucky that their day was complete after an hour of watching the otters play and feast. But when they had driven through Carmel--the silliest looking little town ever seen; Loie said, “It looks like Hansel and Gretel brought all their friends to live in Disneyland!”--the Lovebunnies were on the cliff road along the Big Sur. “I wonder who gets to live up there,” said Bucky as they passed beneath a house perched high over the magnificent view of cliff, forest and surf-sculpted rocks. “I wonder how they get up there,” said Loie.
   They headed home by driving up and over the Big Sur mountains on a narrow switch-back road, winding up and up into the Naciamento Valley. “I’m glad Kinley doesn’t have to drive up here,” said Loie. “She hates heights.” “Well,” said Bucky, “She’s missing the prettiest place I’ve ever seen.”
   The last day of their Western Adventure found Loie and Bucky taking a leisurely drive over the Golden Gate Bridge and up north for a wine country tour. They drove a side road through the Alexander and Napa Valleys, visiting wineries and enjoying scenery. That night Paul treated them to a bottle of his cherished ’82 Bordeaux with their halibut supper, and all agreed that this had been the best vacation ever.
   At the Peeling’s Annual Oktoberfest Party, Brother Pete was carving a terrific jack o’lantern using a printed design Bucky had made for him. It was Dracula. Sister Terrie had asked Pete to make jack o’lanterns that year that had monster movie figures on them. “OK, Pete,” said Bucky. “That’s just about perfect. But I think we made a mistake when we planned to cut right through in the light areas.” Brother Pete agreed, and later that week, he called Bucky, excitedly asking him to come over and help with some pumpkin carving.
   “It’s amazing,” Pete said. “Wait ’til you see it.” And he was right. Bucky did his usual job of helping--doing whatever Pete told him to--and was indeed astounded at what Pete had created. Bucky later told Loie, “You’ve got to see these things. He’s just carved away some of the shell, in different thicknesses. It makes it light and dark and looks like a picture. And of course it’s perfect, since Pete did it.” Loie and Bucky went together to see the jack o’lanterns, and she agreed they were the best ever.

   The day after the Oktoberfest, Laura and Loie and Bucky traveled across Baltimore County to Holt Park for the inauguration of a the Holt Art Center and a labyrinth. It had been designed and built by Jo Israelson, who lives in Union Bridge, and had once been thinking of joining Laura’s dreamworks group.
   “Yep,” said Bucky, “No doubt about it, following a bagpiper out to this thing to walk around in the freezing rain is just about the perfect coincidence.” Loie and Laura laughed; they knew that bagpipe music is not Bucky’s favorite. They all trooped along behind the piper’s mournful wail, and walked slowly between the rows of grass plants that outlined the half-acre labyrinth. But that evening, a good hot Indian dinner at Akbar in Baltimore consoled Bucky. The friends agreed that this day must have been the second Lucky/Laura Wonder Tour, because they all spent much of it wondering why they were doing it. The first, of course, was the famous trek across the wilds of North Carolina in search of the Devil’s Hoofprints!
   On the fifteenth of November, Loie had a very exciting challenge at work. She became the Acting Director of the Frederick County libraries. Her friend Denise had resigned as Director, and Loie took over while the search for a new director proceeded. “Is it much more work?” Bucky asked after her first few days. “Yes, it really is,” said Loie, “But I’m enjoying it more than I thought I might. Everyone’s being very helpful.”
   It was later that month that Bucky and Loie were enjoying a quiet evening at home, anticipating the coming holidays and beginning to think of plans for parties and Christmas and New Years. Thinking of holidays past made Bucky think of their friends, and former friends, and he said to Loie, “I’m kind of sorry that we’ve lost Audra.”
   “I know,” said Loie. “Even if she turned out to be the Archfiend, I miss her too. What made you think of her?”
   Bucky said, “Well, I was thinking about our New Years Eve Party, and how she was one of the first people we had over, back on Belvedere.” (If you’ve been following the Lovebunnies’ Story, you remember how Loie and the Evil Audra had tricked each other many times with the Perpetual Bottle of Yago Sangria, and how Audra, master villain that she was, had finally capped the game with The Most Hideous Work of Art Known to Humanity. If you don’t remember, visit the Web address listed at the end of the letter, where you can read all about it.)
   Loie was quiet for a minute, thinking of her frienemy Audra. “Well,” she said, “At least the painting turned out to be some good. It wasn’t much, but I’m glad we got the writeoff for it.”
   “Yeah,” said Bucky, “But that’s not the same as seeing Audra.” And they both agreed that even though they had gotten a generous tax writeoff for a donation of The Most Hideous Work of Art Known to Humanity to the Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, it would be better to have Audra back.
   “Maybe we’ll see her at one of the parties this year,” said Bucky. “Maybe so,” said Loie. “That would be nice.”
   Before they knew it, the year had gone by, the Lovebunnies were celebrating Christmas with all their Friends and Relations, and winter had come in. The mild and clement winter weather was a welcome relief from past winters at Bucky’s Folly. On New Year’s Day, friends and family gathered to enjoy brunch and help the Lovebunnies plant their Christmas tree. The day was gray and cold; Gunther didn’t enjoy being taken out for the traditional tree planting picture. But the cold just helped everyone enjoy the warmth all the more when they gathered inside and Bucky served the home-made-from-scratch tree-planting eggnog.
   And now daffodils are blooming in the Mossy Glade, the wind is out of the south; spring is really here! And the best thing about spring is that Bucky and Loie will see all of their friends and family at their Seventh Annual Anniversary Party, Spring Festival and Gathering of the Tribes.

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