Saturday, March 28, 2009

Threads of steel

In harmony with the natural setting at this locus across the street from the raccoon storm grate, the nest is old and has a long history beyond the newer cobwebs now adding to its filaments.
It came from a tall tree in the yard of our old friend, Bill Vollmer. In 1978 we sold the Vollmer homestead at Hawley and Vliet in Milwaukee, enabling them to retire to their cabin in Marinette County. From there they found a little house nearby on the Menomonee River where the Vollmers fished regularly for wall-eye.
Bill became a solid friend following our fast sale of their Milwaukee house that had been on the market for months without a nibble. The selling price back then was $40,000. When we listed it, we suggested they raise the price. Bill thought this was crazy. He thought he was going to hear a Realtor's suggestion that he lower the price, since it hadn't sold. We were adamant that the price could go up by $4,900.
In only 11 days, as luck had it, we had a buyer, and the deal closed. From then on we could do no wrong with that family. Bill and Jane and their 11 children had a welcome coffee pot at the kitchen table whenever we would stop in, which was often.
10 boys and one girl. Like their father, a rugged AO Smith steel handler until he retired, these boys and one girl were fighters. They still are, though the girl lost an important fight of her life some time back.
Do not mess with the Vollmers.
Bill is gone, but Jane is still going strong, and I am in touch with the youngest son, Alan, regularly. Alan and his family live near Peshtigo.
I'd been spending a weekend in Marinette County with the Vollmers, fishing on the river. Bill knew the pockets of wall-eye, and when he caught a carp he euthanized it with a rap on the gunwale and tossed it into the river for the watching eagles, also his friends.
We saw a bright orange Baltimore Oriole flitting in the branches of a tall tree in his front yard. There was a fragile-looking nest hung from some twigs up there. Bill pointed it out. "Oh, wow!" I exclaimed.
"Ya want it, Dafe? I'll git it fer ya!"
(spoken in his gruff voice)
Bill got a long extension ladder from the garage and propped it up against the tree trunk, climbed up and checked to see that the nest was empty - hatched shells were in it signaling the end of its use - then, teetering on his ladder, Bill broke off the foundation twigs that supported the gauzy weaving. He brought the nest down carefully and presented it to me. Not the first thing he ever gave me.
That bird's nest has lasted in our care for 30 years, hung safely high in the hallway, reinforced only by spiders who have added their gossamer threads to it. Some would say that simple threads do not a shelter make.
Others who study the birds of the air and spinning insects think differently.

Bill cleaned his fish traditionally with his tongue handing out.

Getting the family all together for a picture was a daunting task, but Bill and Jane said they had to form up, and they dutifully did.
The threads of the friendship with the Vollmers are also of steel!
there's more..................

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