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Dear Readers,

Ruckmann-by Kubota!Your response to my post yesterday is humbling! Even though I loved reading almanacs when I was young, and can recite finals scores of Wimbledon finals from decades ago, I try not to be too attached to statistics about my blog.

But yesterday my readership took off, and comments about the post touched my heart and made me grateful for spilling my heart and words on a computer screen day in and day out. In fact, today is my 200th post!

I’m writing it for my family and for you, dear readers, whom I now consider my extended family. You come from all over the world. Some of you have been friends for many years, others I am just getting to know. Some of you are fellow writers, others are artists, parents, teachers, food connoisseurs, runners, tennis players, people of faith. What a great community we have formed!

Today’s post may be a prelude to a poem in the near future, but for now its form will be prose. As some readers of this blog know, I’m a huge believer in Six Degrees of Separation. If all living things and everything else in this world are six or fewer steps away from each other, parakeets in Bonn and Honolulu prove that even with two oceans between them, the world is pretty small!

I first saw them in Bonn when we were living in the former capital of West Germany. Ellen, who is now almost seven years old, was just a baby and I was the stay-at-home parent except when I ran along the Rhine river. I was new to parenting, something I had looked forward to all my life and then — gasp, it was much harder than I ever could have imagined! My husband, our glorious daughter, marathon training, and parakeets helped me keep my faith.

I remember clocking mile after lonely mile in cold weather in Bonn, past beautiful homes and parks, hoping to meet fellow runners, crossing bridges full of hope, taking in the expanse of the city, and meeting parakeets!

They are abundant in Bonn, and quite nimble. I never had a Hitchcock moment, but they are pretty fearless and plentiful. Their calls and colors brightened up Bonn. Distance runners make friends of all kinds as they put in the time to train. Believe me, after 20 miles, I’ve even smiled at familiar trees as I deny exhaustion!

In contrast to Bonn, Honolulu has plenty of sunshine, bright colors, and an Aloha Spirit that can warm the heart. Not to make generalizations, especially as someone who has been in tune with his German heritage all his life, but it would be hard to imagine walking up a steep hill in Germany to my home carrying a pizza, as I once did in Honolulu, and receiving many smiles, friendly greetings, and calls of “Hey, friend, it smells good. Invite me the next time!”

But the parakeets in Honolulu, of which there are many in our neighborhood, speak the same cheerful language as their counterparts in Bonn (without the German accents!).  They are gregarious and beautiful, they shriek full of glee, they are smart and refuse to be caged, and just like in Bonn, they keep me company!