Monday, April 30, 2012

A Birding Obsession

I frequent Goodreads and Librarything often seeking out interesting books that I might otherwise not stumble across even with all the resources at my disposal as a librarian.   I am always so thrilled to read a "sleeper" that just captures my imagination whether it be fiction or non-fiction.   One that definitely intrigued and frankly unsettled me is Life List by Olivia Gentile.


This is a biography about a woman named Phoebe Snetsinger who, at 34 years of age, set out on a walk behind her house, an activity suggested by a neighbour.   What she discovered was a Blackburnian Warbler with a blazing orange throat.   In her words, "I had never seen anything like it.  And at the same time, I realized that the bird had probably been in the trees in my own backyard every spring I'd been alive."   It was, as she described "like a blinding white light",  as profound as a religious awakening, bringing intense joy, lifting her from the frustrations of her life and ultimately changing it irreovacably in both good and bad ways.   She became frankly obsessed with birds almost to the exclusion of everything else in her life including her family.   At the time of her death,  she had recorded seeing 8398 species of birds worldwide!   She actually passed away in a car accident while in Madagascar, chasing down a little peach-and-green bird called an Appert's Greenbul, that had been found and named only three years earlier.   This is a fascinating read and an extraordinary woman.

11 comments:

Aimeslee said...

Okay, that book sounds a bit too bird-centric for my tastes, but you go! As for your lovely art pieces, love love that Walton quote - "warble forth"! xoxo

Marva said...

Oh I love these two pieces! You always do such amazing work!

. said...

8398! Are you kidding me? I think I would have loved her as a friend - did you feel inspired to let go of any of the 'ratrace traps' ? I bet you did! Love your new work too!
My latest bird tale is finding a Merlin that had died on our front porch - can't figure out how he would have been flying so low and at a speed that would have caused death...but - well, he is in my freezer and he is a beautiful creature. I am going to take him to a taxidermist and see if I can have him preserved in a way that doesn't look 'tacky'....we'll see.
Nice to visit you lovely Heather!

xoxo
trudi

Jann said...

I will have to find this book--I absolutely love wild birds and always have had feeders in my yard, wherever I've lived. We have a Western Scrub Jay now who waits at our patio door every morning until I hand him a peanut--so fun. The book sounds fascinating! I love your art pieces--they are wonderful!

Valerie Mann said...

Well this is one for sure I will have to read since in the last 5 years or more I have been obsessed with birds, they have become my signature piece in art....thanks Heather for the heads up....

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Paula Jane Atkinson said...

Beautiful artwork, I love teh imagery. Fascinatiing book, must add this to my reading list for next year. (I make a minibook of books read every year, & I try to read at lest 20 which is quite hard with working full time & trying to fit in crafting time!!)

denthe said...

Sounds like an interesting book! Lovely pages!

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Elizabeth Golden said...

First I love your two bird pieces. They speak from the heart. beautiful.
Second the book sounds fascinating. I am always up for a good read. Thank you for the suggestion!

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