A special gathering in Fort Wayne awaits

The best proofreader I ever had was my mom.
Unfortunately for me, my mistakes weren’t noticed until she read them in the morning newspaper. Dad thought they should hire her.
Mom was an avid reader and especially enjoyed James Michener novels. She died early last year at 93. That’s how she wanted it worded in her obituary, that JoAnne E. Bloom died. No flowery phrases about passing through the pearly gates.
Straightforward. Simple.
One of the things she gave me, besides an appreciation for words, is a framed poster that lists various animal groupings. For example, a school of fish, a pride of lions.
There are 73 in all.
Although some are familiar terms (covey of quail, colony of ants), quite a few are ones I’d never heard of before. Consider these:
A crash of rhinoceroses.
A kindle of kittens.
A rafter of turkeys.
A game of whales.
A fall of woodcocks.
A skulk of foxes.
A dissimulation of birds.
A peep of chickens.
A business of ferrets.
A pitying of turtledoves.
A cete of badgers.
A congregation of plovers.
You get the idea. But were they real or made up? Not knowing how accurate some of the terms were, I searched the Internet and found a few other sources that provided similar lists. Mom’s poster seems accurate. So here are a few more:
An unkindness of ravens.
A tiding of magpies.
A sounder of swine.
A mustering of storks.
A bouquet of pheasants.
A clowder of cats.
A murmuration of starlings.
A smack of jellyfish.
A harras of horses.
A parliament of owls.
A descent of woodpeckers.
A siege of herons.
A bale of turtles.
A dule of doves.
A walk of snipe.
The purpose of this message (other than encouraging use of the proper term — ostentation — the next time you write about a group of peacocks) is to let you know about another special gathering.
It’s an OWAA conference, where outdoor communicators get together to learn and socialize.
In this, our organization’s 91st year, we’ll meet in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Conference coordinator Jessica Seitz and Tim Mead, our second vice president, have worked diligently at developing a first-rate program that includes timely newsmaker panels and craft improvement sessions designed to hone your communications skills.
Conference host Visit Fort Wayne is putting the final touches on a warm welcome, and there’s a wide variety of pre- and post-conference trips designed to meet your storytelling needs.
And proximity is the order of the day, with key event locations within a block of each other.
So, let’s get together and have a conference, or a mustering or a parliament, a flight, a bevy, a school, even a congregation. Whatever you want to call it, let’s just gather once more to learn and have fun. ♦
Phil Bloom is the former communications director for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and former outdoors editor at the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

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