Surferbird News-Links, 47th Edition


Today's edition of Surferbird News-Links is a little different. Sometimes, I need a break from melting glaciers and arsenic in rice. I suspect that you do, also. Instead of the usual Surferbird fare, I'm including noteworthy memories and links to places I've lived because today is the owl's 57th birthday! So join the party — meet Kevin the peacock, take a stroll in Benicia, eat beignets in New Orleans, listen to Robert Frost read a poem and savor an extra special earworm.


Kevin isn't the love of my life, but I do admire his handsome train. I doubt that he would find me particularly attractive, though. I don't seem to have the right kind of feathers. Kevin is a peacock and owns the ranch where my son takes archery lessons. Seeing him strut around the premises today gave me the idea to shake things up and post a different kind of Surferbird News-Links. Thank you, Kevin.

Albino peacocks (

I had no idea — absolutely stunning. Yet, this isn't truly an albino peacock, but rather a white peacock related to the Indian Blue Peafowl. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for more images.

Peacocks aren't evolutionary failures, after all. (

I love it when a well-accepted theory gets blown out of the water. For many years, scientists thought peacocks were an evolutionary failure because their expansive trains were a liability — except when attracting a mate. According to the article, this premise supported the idea of "natural selection favoring reproduction over an individual's survival." Well, well. Peacocks seem capable of escaping predators — even with their feathers on. There may be other disadvantages to all the feathers, though. But still, I find some kind of poetic justice in this.



A Robert Frost poem

I believe this was the first Robert Frost poem my father read to me. Yes, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep."

The train from Durango to Silverton (

Before vacationing in Colorado, the only mountains I knew were the Great Smokies. This train ride kind of messed me up because I fell in love with dramatic scenery. Mississippi seemed kind of boring after visiting the Rockies.


Balsamic vinegar (

Balsamic vinegar doesn't currently agree with my digestion, but I still have the utmost respect for its history and flavor. This articles does and excellent job describing the art of making balsamic vinegar and clarifies the differences among varieties.

Café Du Monde (

Some of my favorite memories from growing up in the Deep South are the drives to New Orleans and eating beignets at CaféDu Monde. No, they're not healthy, especially cooked in cottonseed oil as recommended. But let's not worry about that today!


Walking in Benicia, CA (

Everyone knows already that walking has many health benefits. So rather than share an article on walking, here's a link to one of my favorite places to walk, Benicia, CA. For those of you interested in history, go ahead and snoop around the website — I think you'll be glad you did. Jack London was known to haunt those parts. And I do believe General Ulysses Grant did a bit of jail time in Benicia for drunkenness.

Science and technology

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway (

This was the most common way to get to New Orleans, depending on which part of Mississippi or Louisiana you were coming from. And it used to be the longest bridge over water in the world — almost 24 miles longs. On one of favorite memories is riding across the causeway in my father's 1968 Mustang during a driving rain storm while listening to Simon and Garfunkel and the Beatles — singing along with the 8-track player the whole way. Are you old enough to remember those? In addition, here's a link to a short video on the history of Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.


My father introduced me to Bill Evans when I was about 12. This particular arrangement and performance of "I Loves You Porgy" is one of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by my wood. We'll get back to those melting glaciers next week.    Laura