Jan. 1, 1945
Happy New Year! So the “forties” are half over. By the end of the second half some one should have been able to think up an appropriate nick-name for this unfortunate decade.
Two or three days ago your letters of Dec. 10 and 18 arrived and were well received. How satisfactory that Grandma really has nothing seriously wrong with her. Thins in Gardiner sound well indeed, and I guess Uncle Bob is in a good place, though it doesn’t look as if he would reach 101.
So the skulls turned up. Good! You’ll not be sorry to hear that there have been no recent additions to the collection, none in fact since Urocyon cinereoargenteus Floridianus (gray fox). Bet you don’t know how to tell it from a red fox, that is skullwise, but it’s very easy, a matter of ridges.
Good for Nance, who, by the way, is “author” of my most recent letter —cheerful and interesting as usual. I agree that it’s better to enjoy Christmas at home under most conditions. Jerry [an English setter puppy] must have been about the most interesting present. I’m anxious to see him.
Does Jack show any real interest in any particular sports yet? Of course he’ll almost undoubtedly mature late like Ham and I, a disadvantage in school athletics, but perhaps he’ll go after fives and baseball with some success. At any rate he seems to be doing well in other, probably more important, respects.
Things are rather cheerless in Europe, aren’t they? It proves once again that overconfidence, especially on the part of the newspapers, is bad business. The other man theatre? Well, about all one can say is that it has its cheerful aspects along with its cheerless.
Spare time continues to be interesting if you see from my rotten English what I mean. Just recently we’ve been enjoying the first swimming, for most of us, in several weeks. There are some pretty nice beaches, though also quite a coral problem. One has to watch to keep from getting cut by the chunks hidden just under the surface in what often has been reasonably deep water up until just then. There are fine shells to be found here and there, especially cowries, those finely-polished, toothed shells shaped something like a football squashed on one side, several pretty though small specimens of which are the nucleus of a small, but growing collection.
Birds again are interesting, though what they all are I may be a long time in finding out. Some like a blackbird, the commonest bird here, a crow, a swift, two or three doves, one a gorgeous blue, a heron or two (one white job perhaps a phase of a blue) and a small bittern are easy to identify as to family, but there are a few others that are strange indeed. It is for one who fancies himself a naturalist quite an experience to hear and follow strange bird notes not knowing what to expect. Other oddities are a bright blue starfish and a little lizard (skink?) with black body, adorned with three orange stripes down the back, and with a bright blue tail. I forget to mention seeing the beautiful, all-white tern.
There seem to be many kinds of trees, though coconuts predominate. I wish Forbush, Sargent, etc. had worked out here and written up their results!
Keeping fit though warm,