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Pass Christian Master Naturalist and Long Beach Mississippi Blue Bird Trail founder John Lipscomb (pictured above checking a nesting box), reported during the June 11 Trail Survey that it was extremely hot and humid during the survey walk. He commented that he couldn’t imagine being a baby bluebird inside one of those little wooden boxes during that torrid weather. Neither can I.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #15 – June 11, 2010:

Box #1 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #2 – 5 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #3 – New nest; these new guys are playing house again. – Last week: 3 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest. *First babies ever to fly from this box since Trail founded in 2008. Removed next; cleaned box.

Box #4 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.

Box #7 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.

Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #9 – Nest built. – Last week: Nest built.

Box #10 – Some straw in box. – Last week: Some straw in box.

Box #11 – Nest built.- Last week: Nest built.

Box #12 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 36 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 9 Blue Bird babies, 23 Blue Bird eggs.
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Lots of large babies like these, flew from the nesting boxes this past week.

John reported during the June 18th Trail Survey that he was enthused with there being lots more Blue Bird babies in the nesting boxes this week; some just hatched and others almost ready to fly the nest.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #16 – June 18, 2010:

Box #1 – 2 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #2 – 5 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #3 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: New nest; these new guys are playing house again.

Box #4 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.

Box #7 – 3 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.

Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #9 – Removed nest, no activity. – Last week: Nest built.

Box #10 – Removed straw, no activity. – Last week: Some straw in box.

Box #11 – Nest, will remove next week if no activity. – Last week: Nest built.

Box #12 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 36 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 22 Blue Bird babies, 10 blue bird eggs.

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When the babies get as large as these bobbleheads, they are ready to fly at most any time.

John reported during the June 25th Blue Bird Trail survey, that the Long Beach weather continued to be hot and humid.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #17 – June 25, 2010:

Box #1 – 2 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 2 Blue Bird babies.

Box #2 – 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 1 sterile Blue Bird egg. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird babies.

Box #3 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #4 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: – 4 Blue Bird babies.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 blue bird babies.

Box #7 – 3 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 3 blue bird babies.

Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Box #9 – No activity. – Last: Removed nest, no activity.

Box #10 – Removed straw, no activity. – Last week: Some straw in box.

Box #11 – No activity, removed nest. – Last week: Nest, will remove next week if no activity.

Box #12 – 4 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 44 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 17 Blue Bird babies, 7 blue bird eggs (several of these will be sterile).

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John reports on July 4th: “Really wet on the north end of campus. The ground is ‘sour’ (as the old timers say). It smells like the ground smelled after Katrina. Yuk! There is some discrepancy in the numbers. As I have explained before, it is sometimes hard to tell how many babies/eggs there are in a nest. For instance, last week, I counted 2 babies and 2 eggs in Box #1. This week there was nothing in the box, so I am counting that at 4 babies flown. Not really sure, but you have to make a decision. I’d rather err on the positive side.”

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #18 – July 4, 2010:

Box #1 – 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, removed old nest, cleaned box. – Last week: 2 Blue Bird babies.

Box #2 – No Activity. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 1 sterile Blue Bird egg; removed nest, cleaned box.

Box #3 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #4 – 5 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, removed old nest, cleaned box. (John reports: this is another change, last week reported 4 babies, there were actually 5 eggs at the start, I just couldn’t count all the fat babies, so I thought there were only 4 of them). – Last week: – 4 Blue Bird babies.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 1 sterile egg, removed old nest, cleaned box. – Last week: 4 blue bird babies.

Box #7 – 3 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, 2 sterile eggs, removed old nest, cleaned box. – Last week: 3 blue bird babies.

Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, removed nest, cleaned box. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies.

Box #9 – No activity. – Last: Removed nest, no activity.

Box #10 – No activity. – Last week: Removed straw, no activity.

Box #11 – No activity. – Last week: No activity, removed nest.

Box #12 – New straw. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest, removed old nest, cleaned box.

Box #13 – New nest. – Last week: Some straw in box.

2010 Season Totals: 64 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 4 blue bird eggs.

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Master Naturalist John Lipscomb reports today, June 4, 2010, from the South Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail in Long Beach, that:

“We have had lots of rain during the past several days, and the north part of the property is flooded, making it necessary for me to get my waders out to check the boxes. The birdies are making up for the late start this season, with lots of new eggs this week.”

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Blue Bird pair on Box #4, during the 2009 season.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #14 – June 4, 2010:

Box #1 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 1 Blue Bird egg.

Box #2 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: – 5 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #3 – 3 Blue Bird babies flew from the nest. *First babies ever to fly from this box since Trail founded in 2008. – Last week: 3 Blue Bird babies.

Box #4 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: – 2 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 2 blue bird eggs.

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Because of heavy rains received during the past several days on the Long Beach Blue Bird Trail, the north part of the Trail had quite a bit of water, much like it did in this 2009 file image.

Box #7 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 3 blue bird eggs.

Box #8 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: New nest built.

Box #9 – Nest built. – Last week: Nest built.

Box #10 – Some straw in box. – Last week: Some straw in box.

Box #11 – Nest built.- Last week: Nest built.

Box #12 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 4 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 36 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 32 blue bird eggs.

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From the South Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail, this week, Master Naturalist John Lipscomb reports:

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A Blue Bird parent feeding babies in one of the nesting boxes on the South Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail in Long Beach, Mississippi, during the 2009 Season.

“It has gotten very hot down here. I went fishing yesterday and sweated like I was in a sauna. Mornings and evenings are still nice.

We had an 8 foot alligator in the bayou last week. Haven’t seen him in the last 5 or 6 days. Hope he has gone somewhere else.

My friend, Robbie, who has a fishing camp in Dulac, La., called me this morning. Dulac is about 17 miles south of Houma, which is south central La. They have shut all fishing down in that area. Lots of bird life (eagles, pelicans, egrets, etc.) and other wildlife (deer, turtles, gators, etc.) in this area. Not to mention, shrimp, crabs, fish, etc.

We are still allowed to fish in the Sound [The Bay of St. Louis], but not past the islands. This oil leak is scary.”

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File photo 2009 Season.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #13 – May 28, 2010:

Box #1 – 1 Blue Bird egg. – Last week: – New nest built.

Box #2 – 5 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: – 3 Blue Bird eggs.

Box #3 – 3 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: – 3 Blue Bird babies.

Box #4 – 2 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: – No activity; did see Blue Birds on the box though.

Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: – No activity.

Box #6 – 2 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies flew from the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box.

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Fishing on the Bayou Portage from John’s back yard dock.

Box #7 – 3 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies flew from the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box.

Box #8 – Nest built. – Last week: New nest built.

Box #9 – Nest built. – Last week: New nest built.

Box #10 – Some straw in box. – Last week: No activity.

Box #11 – Nest built.- Last week: New nest built.

Box #12 – 4 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: New nest built.

Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 33 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 17 blue bird eggs, 3 blue bird babies.

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From the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blue Bird Trail in Long Beach, Mississippi today, May 21, 2010, Master Naturalist and Trail Founder John Lipscomb had the following report after making today’s Trail Survey:

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2009 file image.

“We now have 33 Blue Bird babies that have flown the nesting boxes. Last year at this time, there were 28 babies that had flown. Also last year this week, we had 25 eggs and 3 babies in the nesting boxes, while this year, this 12th week, we have only 3 babies and 3 eggs.

But, the good news is that we have five new nests that have been built since last week’s Survey on Friday, May 14. These new nests should help bring our egg counts up.

It was very hot and muggy on the Trail today. I saw a dead Blue Bird male today in the vicinity of Box #8. Not sure what killed him. Possibly the stormy weather we had earlier this week.”

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #12 – May 21, 2010:

Box #1 – New nest built. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies flew the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box.
Box #2 – 3 Blue Bird eggs. – Last week: Straw in the box; new nest under construction.
Box #3 – 3 Blue Bird babies. – Last week: 2 blue bird babies in box and 1 egg – first babies ever in this box.
Box #4 – No activity; did see Blue Birds on the box though. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies flew the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box.
Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

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2009 file image.
Box #6 – 5 blue bird babies flew from the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #7 – 5 blue bird babies flew from the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned nesting box. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #8 – New nest built. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies flew from the nest. Removed old nest, cleaned box.
Box #9 – New nest built. – Last week: No activity.
Box #10 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #11 – New nest built. – Last week: No activity.

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The adult Blue Birds were very busy building five new nests in the boxes along the Trail during the past week. 2009 file image.

Box #12 – New nest built. – Last week: 4 blue bird babies flew from the next, change from 3 blue bird babies, 1 egg in box.
Box #13 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.

2010 Season Totals: 33 blue bird babies have flown the nest so far; currently in nesting boxes: 3 blue bird eggs, 3 blue bird babies, 5 new Blue Bird nests built this week.

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Besides viewing all of the spring activity along the Long Beach Blue Bird trail, John has also been observing other winged activity moving through his back yard. He reported in an email on April 19, 2010, “We have lots of migratories on the Coast now. I have seen indigo buntings, a painted bunting, an orchard oriole and flocks of cedar waxwings. I have 4 baby blue birds in the nesting box on the bayou behind my house.”

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This beautiful male blue bird was photographed feeding his babies at nesting box #7 during the 2009 season.

During the Blue Bird Trail Survey of Friday, April 23, John reported, “It was warm and muggy our there while walking the trail. I even walked up on a red tailed hawk in the back of the property, by the canal. He made a lot of racket flying out of the tree he was in, when he left, and I was able to watch him for a 1/4 of a mile during his flight.”

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #8 – Apr. 23, 2010:

Box #1 – 5 blue bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #2 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 3 blue bird babies.
Box #3 – 1 blue bird egg. – Last week: Nest built.
Box #4 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #6 – 5 blue bird eggs. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #7 – 5 blue bird eggs. – Last week: 5 eggs.
Box #8 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #9 – No activity. – Last week: Grass in box.
Box #10 – Moss in nesting box. – Last week: Partially covered moss nest.
Box #11 – No activity. – Last week: Straw in box.
Box #12 – 4 eggs. – Last week: 4 eggs.
Box #13 – Nest built. – Last week: Nest built.

Totals: 20 blue bird eggs, 15 blue bird babies.
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John reports that it was warm and muggy on the Trail during the Survey. Also windy, and he adds, “Let’s hope and pray for the smallest of problems with the oil spill.”

Amen, to that prayer!

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John has lots of big fellows like this in the nesting boxes this week, ready to fly.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #9 – Apr. 30, 2010:

Box #1 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #2 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #3 – 3 blue bird eggs. – Last week: 1 blue bird egg.
Box #4 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #6 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird eggs.
Box #7 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 eggs.
Box #8 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #9 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #10 – Moss in box, saw male blue bird in nearby tree. – Last week: Moss in nesting box.
Box #11 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #12 – 3 blue bird babies, 1 egg. – Last week: 4 babies.
Box #13 – Nest has been in box 4 weeks. – Last week: Nest built.

Totals: 4 blue bird eggs, 33 blue bird babies.
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In Week #10 Survey, John noted that 4 babies had flown the nest, leaving one sterile egg remaining. Last week, he thought there were 5 babies in the nest. But when they are that big, you can’t always see all 5, and low and behold, there was only 4 babies, sitting on that one sterile egg. John reminds us that the proof, is when they fly. More babies will fly during this coming week.

Here are the Blue Bird Trail Survey results for Week #10 – May 6, 2010:

Box #1 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #2 – 4 blue bird babies flew the nest, 1 sterile egg left, removed next, cleaned box. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #3 – 3 blue bird eggs. – Last week: 3 blue bird eggs.
Box #4 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #5 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #6 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #7 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #8 – 5 blue bird babies. – Last week: 5 blue bird babies.
Box #9 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #10 – No activity, removed moss from box. – Last week: Moss in box, saw male blue bird in nearby tree.
Box #11 – No activity. – Last week: No activity.
Box #12 – 3 blue bird babies, 1 egg. – Last week: 3 blue bird babies, 1 egg.
Box #13 – No activity, removed box. – Last week: Nest has been in box 4 weeks.

Totals: 4 blue bird babies flew the nest, 1 sterile blue bird egg, 4 blue bird eggs, 28 blue bird babies.

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With March 2010 now here and in full swing, it is time to start checking on Blue Bird nesting boxes on the Blue Bird Trail on the campus of the South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach, Mississippi.

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SMRC Blue Bird Trail founder Master Naturalist John Lipscomb launched the 2010 Blue Bird observation and reporting season last Friday, March 5, 2010 with his first checks of the Trail nesting boxes.

John had the following results to report for this first check: “We are off to a slow start this season, due to the cold, wet windy weather here on the Gulf Coast. We have a few pieces of grass and twigs in boxes 1, 4, 6 and 8. Just as comparison, last year at this time, we had 4 nests built and straw in another box. Nest building will get better once we get some warmer weather.”

Following is a quick summary of activity on the Blue Bird Trail during the 2009 Season:
86 eggs laid: 9 were sterile, 5 lost to predators. 67 babies total flew from the nests.

During the 2008 Season, 45 babies flew from the nesting boxes.

Have a good week!

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It Really Is A Small World

It is a distinct privilege to have provided this guest post for my friend Ree – The Hotfessional, during her well-earned travel absence from the U.S. during December 2009. Have a safe and great trip, Ree!

***From the Coast Rat.***

The World is a small place, indeed.

In October of 2000, Blond Girl and I hit the road and drove down from Wisconsin to North Carolina to visit our son and his family, who live there, in Durham.

It was an amazing trip traveling at that time of the year, catching the beautiful fall colors on the trees, as we drove through Ohio, the Hotfessional’s West By-Gawd Virginia, and Virginia, on our way down to Durham.

The timing of the trip was planned to coincide with the Cedar Creek Civil War Battlefield Reenactment, an annual event taking place on the grounds of the Cedar Creek Battlefield State Park, in northwestern Virginia.

It was my hope to meet several of my ‘pards’ from Company K, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry there at the Reenactment, and fall in with them in the Black Hat Battalion for at least one day of the battle reenactment, before heading on down to North Carolina. I had last seen those fellows, mostly from New Jersey, and from Pennsylvania, the year before, at the 135th Anniversary Reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg, in PA, where some 28,000+ reenactors of us took part in that largest civil war reenactment ever held in the U.S.

As it turned out, Blond Girl and i arrived after dark on the Friday evening of the Cedar Creek reenactment, and found that a couple of Co. K members had made the trip over from New Jersey for the event. We visited a bit, and made plans for my return the next morning, in Union uniform, to take part in the Battle scenario that was to take place.

Sunday morning dawned sunny, bright and cool to begin with, as Blond Girl and I made our way from a nearby town where we had stayed the night, down to the battlefield and looked up my friends, in preparation for the battle to start.

There was a good sized group from the reenactment community on hand for the battle, both Union and Confederate, and I was fortunate to be able to spend time visiting and remembering our week-long experience at the Gettysburg 135th event the previous year.

Co. K Captain at the time, Capt. Bob Patterson, was kind enough to lend me his musket for the battle scenario, and just after noon, we got ready for the battle to begin.

As many people are aware, Civil War reenactment battles and skirmishes are entirely scripted, as to troop movements, and who wins the day, including which and how many participants “take hits,” on both sides in the battle, attempting to accurately portray what actually occured during the original event almost a century and a half ago.

At Cedar Creek, a large Confederate force surprised a large camped Union force in the morning, scattering and routing them several miles from their camps at Cedar Creek. Later in the day, Union forces rallied, and regained the original ground they had lost in the morning, including what was left of their camp and possessions.

Our reenactment started out with our Union infantry force being ‘surprised’ by Confederate forces and driven across the battlefield almost a half a mile, fighting and firing our muskets all the way, at the advancing rebs, in what was termed as a “strategic withdrawal,” as often was the case in many of the civil war engagements of that war.

During our retreat across the battlefield grounds, I probably loaded and fired some 30-40 powder rounds, and eventually had to borrow some powder charges from a fellow Union infantry soldier I had been fighting beside all the way across the valley we retreated on. I had seen this fellow the evening before during our brief visit, but never got a chance to meet or talk with him.

When our Union infantry force had finally reached the point of retreat where we were to stop, we rested briefly and then, start advancing back across the 1/2 mile we had just given up, ‘attacking’ the confederate infantry back across the same ground, to the original starting point.

It was during our brief rest, while we were taking water from our canteens and briefing talking with each other, that an amazing incident occurred.

It was then that I turned to the fellow infantryman stranger beside me, who I had fought right beside all along during the Union retreat, and who had given me a hand-full of his own powder cartridges, and I shock his hand and said: “Hi, I’m Lance; glad to soldier with you.” He said: “Hi. I’m Chris; from DC, nice to soldier with you, too.”

I said: “I’m from Wisconsin, on my way to North Carolina, and I am portraying my great great grandfather, Albert Harland Rolfe, who was a member of the original Company K, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, who fought with the Union Army of the Potomac in the civil war.”

Chris said: “Wisconsin, huh…, are you from anywhere near Beaver Dam?”

I said: “Beaver Dam…, yeah, I’ve got a sister and brother-in-law, Sue and Mick McConaghy who live in Beaver Dam, about an hour and a half from my home.”

Chris said: “McConaghy, huh…, do they have a daughter named Michelle?”

I said: instantly alert and somewhat startled by Chris’s question… “Yes….., why do you ask?”

Chris said: Is she marrying a guy named Paul next summer…?”

Even more startled, I said: “yeeesssss……., why do you ask?”

To my absolute astonishment, Chris said: “Yeah…. Paul is my brother, and I’m the Best Man at their wedding next summer!”

As my mouth dropped open in amazement, I almost fell over, and replied: “You have got to be kidding me!!! Here we are, complete strangers at a civil war reenactment in Virginia, who end up fighting next to each other, within two feet of one another for an hour of historic reenactment, and our paths and family ties are so connected! This is truly, incredible, just incredible!”

Family connections back then in that terrible event were close, and today, observing that historic event, family ties are still connected and close.

At Paul and Michelle’s wedding that next summer, I had the pleasure to photographing their reception in Beaver Dam, and renewing my new friendship with Chris, including having our picture taken together with us both wearing the “Black Hats” of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry.

One really never knows what connection one may have with a stranger next to you.

One thing is for sure: The world truly is a small place.

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