Thursday, April 11, 2013

Staunton's 'Bird Lady'

March 2013: The bird feeder with lots of traffic -- cardinals, blue jays, titmouse, and juncos gather in the heavy snow. Juncos sit on fence pickets like yard ornaments. The birds like to gather under the picnic table out of the driving snow so we scatter bird seed there for those who don't want to be in the feeder.

YuLee Larner. She was an icon in this little southern city of Staunton, Virginia, because of her love of birds and her News Leader birding columns that talked everything "birds."

When my family moved to Augusta County in 1996 and subscribed to the News Leader, her column was one of the first things I got hooked on in my new location. Her way of communicating, just as if she was talking with you, came across in her writing, and she helped continue my love of our feathered friends that my parents had instilled in me.

When I discovered she lived in the big yellow Victorian house across from Thornrose Cemetery, it was almost as if a celebrity lived there. I would drive by and think, "That's YuLee's house. Wonder what she's doing today."

She was 89 when she passed away this week. That would have made her around 72 when we moved here, still very busy with her life of writing, birds, music. What a full life she led.

The News Leader remembered her in their Wednesday editorial, noting she wrote 1,800 columns over 36 years. That's a lot of words.
With gratitude and sorrow, we remember her final published words here at the News Leader. On March 18, she left us with this: The snow was beautiful and once it started to melt, the birds had a picnic. I had a picnic, too.
She was another person who loved feeding and watching the birds in the snow ... a kindred spirit. Here is a heart-felt thank you to YuLee for sharing her knowledge of the birds of Augusta County.

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