What a lovely sunrise!
Dear Readers: This is my last column, but I hope we can still be friends!
I've known some of you for more than 20 years, yet we've never met face-to-face. We did all our communicating on these pages, or in the uncounted gigabytes of all those email messages that spewed out of my computer every morning ... or in your uncounted letters.
But you know that.
Many of you have written me since I announced my retirement a few weeks ago to let me know what a great ride it's been. A few of you reminded me that you've been here beside me for every one of the 42 years I've been writing this thing.
Over the years, we've learned a lot together, you and I.
The best part is we found things out together. It's been a team effort.
Back in 1970 when I wrote my first column, raccoons were just starting to be noticed ... occasionally ... in local backyards. My first "raccoon in the yard" letter, as I recall, was from a lady who came down to make breakfast in the morning and discovered a raccoon in her kitchen (it used the cat door) that had already taken out the eggs.
Today just about every wild bird,
Somewhere along the way I -- make that we -- coined the phrase, "the urban wilderness," otherwise known as "our backyards." It's a tossup as to which wild animals are the most recent visitors -- either the wild turkeys or the crows.
I hope you've had as much fun reading about these things as I've had writing about them. My pets have enjoyed it, too. The pets of newspaper columnists often become famous, depending on how much gets written about them (no need to answer that). There have been many four-legged and two-winged family members along the way: John the Cat, Isis, Lottie, Nikki, Tut, Newman, Jasmine and Tortie the desert tortoise. Just thinking about them brings a fond smile to my face.
These last 42 years have been fun, but I'm looking forward to what's next, including teaching my grandchildren about what's living in their backyards. At the same time I don't want the flow of this valuable information to stop. This space is much too special!
Even though this is indeed my last column, I think the paper has come up with a good plan. The editors asked my dear friend Joan Morris -- currently our Home & Garden editor -- if she'd please keep things going and brighten this space with her warm smile, quick wit, carefully researched answers and fun, positive outlook.
Joan said I didn't have to send the roses, but I figured it wouldn't hurt.
She said yes.
So have fun, dear friends. Maybe we'll run into each other from time to time. If we do, please stop and say "Hi!"
And from now on, please send your questions to Joan at the address below.
She'll take good care of you.
-- Love, Gary
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org; or write Joan at P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.