Audubon and the birds, Part I

Well, spring is officially here and I am excited to do a post on our upcoming history studies. I have been waiting to do this study since the beginning of the school year…before even, when I fell in love with this book from my local library:

I admit, I don’t know much about John James Audubon except that he did draw exquisite pictures of birds that I have loved looking at since a small child. I can tell you, I am very excited to learn all about him! It reminds me of a pivotal childhood moment that I wish had been capitalized on for me. Our neighbors, for reasons I cannot remember, invited me to attend a seminar on Lewis and Clark. I was the only child out of my six sisters who went and the only reason I think they invited me was that they might have been more in tune with my true nature then my mother was as I was always at their house collecting rocks and looking for mysterious fossils and real Indian arrowheads. Regardless, I don’t remember much about what was talked about, but I do remember the feeling I had which was of pure, utter enjoyment. They let me roam among the book tables afterwards and allowed me to purchase one book. I found the Golden Guides field guide to Butterflies and was smitten. I came home and secretly looked through that book more times then I can count.

Why, this story has nothing to with birds! you are surely saying to yourself. What this story encapsulates for me is that love of nature. I was born to be a naturalist – in the career form of the word. I love nothing more then traipsing through woods, taking pictures, sketching, learning about flowers, growing and using herbs, studying botany, etc. etc. etc. And, when it comes to history, the parts that most fascinate me and capture my interest is any part that includes these passions of mine…hence the Audubon, Lewis and Clark, Thoreau, Pioneers, etc. There were many more childhood moments that should have clued me into this – collecting old gardening magazines they were tossing from the library, ripping out photos in National Geographic Magazines that captured my interest, finding and buying with my own money a copy of “The Girl of Limberlost” at an antique store and then reading it out loud secretly in my room as my tongue rolled over the spellbinding words, playing “Little House” and foraging for food in the wild, walking along the banks of my neighborhood creek to explore, sitting for hours in the springtime in any woods I could find looking for new growth under old, dead leaves…and the list could go on.

Surprisingly, I never had a garden. My parents were too busy to notice my interest. The school certainly wasn’t aware of them and there was no guidance counselor directing my career path toward something…anything…having to do with this field. I did eventually (after my freshman year of college) grow my own garden and fell in love with it.  I did eventually end up working at a Garden Nursery (as a cashier and receptionist) and loving it. It was enough to just feel and handle the plants as people rang them up. I did eventually (after already graduating college) go back to school for horticulture only to not be able to continue due to starting a family. But I think of all the things I could have done if anyone…anyone at all…would have shown an interest!

I want to be that for my kids. Not that they are necessarily going to grow up and love gardening or botany like I do, but that they will get to grow up in their interests, that I will get a chance to cultivate that in them – whether it be electronics or dinosaurs.  That I will actually get to help them open up the doors of possibility down career paths where they will be doing meaningful work that they are passionate about. How many of us get that possibility?

My children are in love with birds right now (as is their grandmother) and have collected a number of stuffed birds over the years. We have a field guide that we regularly consult as we are spotting a glimpse of red or patch of blue here and there in our yard. When the kids do crafts they make insects and birds…repeatedly, in many different ways…and play with them and talk to them for hours on end. We have a birding sounds CD that we check to see if we can learn which bird is saying what. So naturally, I am so excited to learn about a field I am interested in but know very little about and expand a field that they are interested in as well. I envy them in that they get to actually study this for history if they want. What I would have given for that over a dry textbook full of boring facts!

Tomorrow (or the next depending on Ivy’s teething) I will come back with Part II and tell you about our study we are planning. It will be an all encompassing unit study and pretty much take over all our other subjects. I am pretty excited and can’t wait to share the book list with you!

6 thoughts on “Audubon and the birds, Part I

  1. I do remember your first garden and think I might actually have a picture of it(?) That is just wonderful that you get to enjoy this moment and with your children at that. I am sure that your excitment may also get them more excited to learn about this field even if it is not one of thier favorites. Have a great time with it! Hope all is well with you guys!

  2. I do have a picture of it! well it got cut from some kind of collage I made back in the day. I will try and send it to you via email tonight!

    • Thanks! Think I may have one too but would REALLY have to search and I do not have time for that right now! Come visit me soon. We can take the kids to Fontenelle Forest together or go have a picnic!

  3. First thing first…I need to get rid of this nasty cold I have been trying to fight off. Dayquil is my new best friend:) I would love to go to the fontenelle forest with you guys. I have never been there. I am trying to scan this picture but I need Chuck to come help me because I have no clue what I am doing but he is cutting up some wood for the fireplace.

  4. i honestly enjoy all your posting type, very remarkable.
    don’t quit as well as keep writing due to the fact that it just simply very well worth to read it.
    looking forward to see much more of your current content articles, have a great day 😉

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