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Birding in the Face of Terror

Birding — Pedro and Nadia

This is the photo I used to carry in my wallet, from our first vacation together back in 1998. It is the actual image referenced in a culminating scene in Act VI.
This is the photo JP used to carry in his wallet, from their first vacation together back in 1998. It is the actual image referenced in a culminating scene in Act VI.

The earliest drafts of “Birding,” dating back to late 2001, were written by my colleague here at Not Two, who prefers to be known simply as “JP.” As many of you know or might guess after reading it, both narrators, Joseph and Pedro, are based on JP, but Pedro is the main vehicle for the semi-autobiographical aspect of the novel. Likewise, the character of Nadia Czonka is a depiction of his first wife, Aubray Tomkinson.

Another snapshot from very early in our relationship, taken by Aubray's mother at her home in Pennsylvania, October 1998.
Another snapshot from very early in their relationship, taken by Aubray’s mother at her home in Pennsylvania, October 1998.

They were “exuberantly wed” (inside joke) in October 1999 in their temporarily adopted hometown of Bisbee, Arizona –disguised in the novel as the fictional Caches Notch, New Hampshire. JP did not have a camera of his own for the vast period of time between high school and the emergence of smartphones (Aubray did, though they seemed to use it sporadically), so snapshots of them from this time period are limited. But there are enough to help you put a couple faces with the names.

From our honeymoon on the Gulf of California, San Carlos, Mexico, Nov 1999.
From their honeymoon on the Gulf of California, San Carlos, Mexico, Nov 1999.
Image from the official website of Bisbee, Arizona (http://bisbeeaz.gov/)
Image from the official website of Bisbee, Arizona (http://bisbeeaz.gov/)
At our Cayucos, California home in 2001. Aubray with Eloise, who we adopted from a pug rescue service (she was eventually re-rescued from us in Massachusetts and found a wonderful permanent home).
At the Cayucos, California home featured in Birding, mid 2001. Aubray with Eloise, who they adopted from a pug rescue service (she was eventually re-rescued from them in Massachusetts and found a wonderful permanent home).
In the mountains above Bisbee, on a hike with our wedding guests the day after, October 1999.
In the mountains above Bisbee, on a hike with their wedding guests the day after, October 1999.
The actual bungalow apartment, 432A Old Creek Road in Cayucos where we lived in 2001 & featured in the novel. That's the actual front door mentioned prominently in a few spots.
The actual bungalow apartment, 432A Old Creek Road in Cayucos where they lived in September 2001. That’s the actual front door mentioned prominently in a few spots.
And here is the "postage stamp sized" view of the Pacific Ocean we enjoyed :-) That's our battered Honda Civic on the left.
And here is the “postage stamp sized” view of the Pacific Ocean they enjoyed 🙂 That’s Aubray’s battered Honda Civic on the left.
Here's a couple views of the avocado farm in the foothills east of Cambria that lured us away from Bisbee in 2000. In writing this as a cross-country move from New Hampshire, I combined elements of the previous move that brought us to Arizona from the Northeast with the actual trip from Bisbee to the Central Coast. The avocado farm as depicted in the novel might have seemed too crazy to be part of our true story, but I can assure you it was.
Here are a couple views of the avocado farm in the foothills east of Cambria that lured them away from Bisbee in 2000. In writing this as a cross-country move from New Hampshire, I combined elements of the previous move that brought them to Arizona from the Northeast with the actual trip from Bisbee to the Central Coast. The avocado farm as depicted in the novel might have seemed too crazy to be part of their true story, but I can assure you it was.
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"The rolling hills of Cambria, California, offer one of the finest Mediterranean climates in North America. Our unique location between the damp coastal fog and the searing inland heat graces us with one of the longest growing seasons in North America. Though we are situated north of the 32nd parallel, in this diverse agricultural community we are able to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables all year. This includes, but is not limited to avocadoes, tomatoes, squash, apples, peppers, eggplant, radish, lettuce, beets, peaches, carrots, beans, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts, oranges, potatoes, spinach, cilantro, garlic, kohlrabi, cauliflower, artichokes, strawberries, asparagus, parsley, swiss chard, cucumber, cabbage, kale and celery. "
“The rolling hills of Cambria, California, offer one of the finest Mediterranean climates in North America. Our unique location between the damp coastal fog and the searing inland heat graces us with one of the longest growing seasons in North America. Though we are situated north of the 32nd parallel, in this diverse agricultural community we are able to produce a variety of fruits and vegetables all year. This includes, but is not limited to avocados, tomatoes, squash, apples, peppers, eggplant, radish, lettuce, beets, peaches, carrots, beans, broccoli, peas, Brussels sprouts, oranges, potatoes, spinach, cilantro, garlic, kohlrabi, cauliflower, artichokes, strawberries, asparagus, parsley, Swiss chard, cucumber, cabbage, kale and celery. ” Image and text both stolen from the farm’s website, which he’d rather I not mention by name 😉
National Geographic image, looks like a view north from Route 46 toward Cambria (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/road-trips/california-pacific-coast-road-trip/)
National Geographic image, looks like a view north from Route 46 toward Cambria (http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/road-trips/california-pacific-coast-road-trip/)
Aubray and Eloise, 2001. I think this was at the beach where the elephant seals hang out along Route 1 up by Piedras Blancas.
Aubray and Eloise, 2001. I think this was at the beach where the elephant seals hang out along Route 1 up by Piedras Blancas.
Sometime in 2001, probably taken by Aubray's sister at her place in Sacramento.
Sometime in 2001, probably taken by Aubray’s sister at her place in Sacramento.
The cliffs in Pismo Beach. This is the location of a conversation between Pedro and Nadia in Act V.
The cliffs in Pismo Beach. This is the location of a conversation between Pedro and Nadia in Act V.
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A rare calm moment just before our wedding, Oct 1999.
A rare calm moment just before the wedding, Bisbee AZ, Oct 1999.

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