Friday, April 8, 2011

Meet Heidi Genter

Since first meeting Heidi Genter in person, in the Denver airport, about the only times I don’t feel “misplaced” are by her side or in her arms. She has become the love of my life, endlessly supportive yet remaining the strong, independent woman that she is. I am very fortunate to have found someone so compatible and truly delightful.

We have tried to trace the origins of our friendship and it definitely started on Facebook. That sounds like a cliché, I know, but that social network can hold some wonderful surprises for those who take the plunge. Near as we can tell, Heidi and I both “liked” the Bugguide page on Facebook, and things just went from there. Who cares who contacted who first, if the results can be like this?

Heidi knows for certain that we started talking nightly on the telephone on April 9, 2010. She has an inclusive phone plan that allows for unlimited long distance calls. We are both bummed by Daylight Savings Time, since that means she is one hour ahead of me.

Heidi lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she has worked as a keeper of the great apes at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for 17 years. She also works part-time as an usher for concerts and other entertainment events at various city arenas and venues. Devoted to her Lutheran church, she sings in the choir and plays in the hand bell choir, too.

Heidi enjoys geocaching as a way to get into the great outdoors, venturing out nearly every weekend with a trio of friends. A gifted and talented artist, Heidi renders animals and other subjects in watercolor, selling some of her pieces through Café Press. She also created and produces an annual zoo fundraiser called “Art on the Hoof” that has been a great success. Heidi has a pet dog, two birds, a corn snake, and wolf spider at last count.

We finally met in person in Denver, on October 13, 2010. I had been invited by another friend, Abigail Parker, to go to Cape May, New Jersey to watch birds during the fall migration. Abby mentioned we would stay at her parents’ beach house in Ocean City, and that there was room for more people. I invited Heidi, but was truly surprised when she agreed to go. I am very respectful of her morals and beliefs, and would have understood completely if she had felt that this was just not the proper way to initiate a relationship, lodging in the same house when we were essentially still strangers. Her willingness to stretch her boundaries to accommodate opportunities like this is one of Heidi’s most attractive qualities.

We had a spectacular time leisurely strolling on the Ocean City boardwalk, snapping pictures of birds at Cape May Point State Park, and ending the day with a tub of Johnson’s Popcorn caramel corn and cuddling on the couch. Neither of us dreamed that we would hit it off so well, but were delighted. By the end of the trip, enjoying genuine cheesesteaks in Abby’s hometown of Philadelphia, we knew we had something to build on.

Home again in our respective cities, we decided we needed to see each other again soon. Heidi decided to use some of her precious vacation time to come to Tucson for New Year’s. Unfortunately, she brought the cold weather with her, and we darn near froze on our New Year’s Eve visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. That evening we had dinner and took in a comedy show at Laffs Comedy Club. New Year’s Day we went hiking in the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, where Heidi found at least three geocaches. We saw plenty of birds and a trio of deer, too.

January second we went to the Sweetwater Wetlands and saw many more birds, enjoying the slightly warming weather. Heidi departed the evening of January third, but not before we took in the Butterfly Magic exhibit at the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Somewhere in all of this we also managed to play pool with Leigh Anne DelRay and her husband David Crowell. Leigh Anne gave her seal of approval to Heidi and I, which I really take to heart.

Most recently, Heidi went to southern California for a workshop on Imperiled Butterfly Conservation & Management. One of Heidi’s self-appointed responsibilities through the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the conservation of the Pawnee Montane Skipper, and her involvement with its recovery includes a series of workshops where colleagues share their methods and practices. I came out to meet Heidi at the conclusion of the workshop, and we stayed with her uncle Dale and his wife Beth in Carpinteria. Another great time was had by all, and we were really grateful for Dale and Beth’s hospitality.

Heidi and I have plans to meet in Chicago for an upcoming family reunion (her side), then I will check out Colorado Springs in preparation to move there this fall. We both move through life at the same pace, and I really think that is why we get along so well and believe that our relationship will endure. Thank you, Sweetheart, for all that you are.

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