Babies, Blooms and Books

Spring work is going on with joyful enthusiasm.  -John Muir

There are blooms. 

And babies …

(I was fortunate enough to meet two wonderful people yesterday morning, Melissa and James, who shared a wealth of info about the area and even led me to the Kent 212th Ponds. I so love fellow bird photographers!)

Here’s what I saw:

Black-capped Chickadee
House Finch
Seven goslings!
212th Pond
212th Pond
Looks a bit like a crime scene

And then a few from this morning’s walk.

Black Phoebe
Red-winged blackbird
Female Merganser
Common Yellow-throat
Not sure on this one?
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Pied-billed Greb

And if that weren’t enough, 

Yesterday was World Book Day.

I’m not sure what calendar or entity is responsible for the declaration of such things, but I’m going to roll with it. I prepared a list from 2021 that you can find here. My 2022 list is dismal. There has been so much happening in my world that reading (and even listening to books) has taken a back seat to more pressing things.

So I am going to declare it World Words Day instead. A celebration of books and letters, blogs and all things written word. Here are the books I’ve finished so far. A short list for now, but as spring deepens, it will grow like those hardy dandelions and those sneaky hostas in the backyard. 

2022 Book List/Book Lust:

Wish You Were Here -Jodi Picoult

I loved this book. It kept me engaged and surprised me all the way to the end.

If Cats Disappeared From the World  -Genki Kowamura

Fascinating story. A good listen.

He Came in With It -Miriam Feldman

I loved this story. Fierce love of a mother and a wild ride as she walks with her son through his mental illness. Great book!

These Precious Days -Ann Patchett

I love everything from Ann Patchett and to listen to her read these essays made me love her even more.

Uncommon Type -Tom Hanks

Not my favorite book this year, but I enjoyed the stories and that each one had at least a passing reference to typewriters.

This is How it Always Is -Laurie Frankel

My favorite book this year. I planned long drives just so I could indulge myself in listening to this story. Loved the writing and most especially the tender telling of the story. I imagined this one happening all over the country. I cried and laughed and raged.

100 Things We’ve Lost to the Internet -Pamela Paul

Loved the “idea” of this. That’s all.

Flowers For Algernon -Daniel Keyes

How did I not remember so much of this story? Really enjoyed listening to it as an adult rather than a middle-schooler.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly – Richard Bauby   

A favorite book of all time. I’ve never listened to it before now, but have read it several times. I really loved the reader. I might just love it more.

The Year of Magical Thinking -Joan Didion

I read this several years ago but wanted to listen this time around. She talks with such honesty about her losses. I can’t hardly fathom the suddenness but I could completely understand the response.

They say that to be a better writer one first needs to become a better reader. Read everything you can. There is a voice inside me that wants to become familiar enough that you might know me from the cadence and style of my writing. I want to describe what I see in such a way that it is as unmistakably me as my handwriting or speaking voice.

As a child I remember being drawn to the handwriting of others. Oh, how I loved the written word. I practiced and practiced to create a style all my own. As an adult, I am drawn, not to the look, but to the sound of words. I mostly listen to books now and I have had the great pleasure of sitting with others reading and listening. Who knew I would come to love this simple act so much?

Do you remember the first chapter book you ever read on your own? For me, it was Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I would sit in the dining room of our Kent house, knees bent, nightgown over the heat register and read. Oh, how I was swept up in the story! I couldn’t put it down. Such joy in finishing it on my own. I identified with Charlie and his wins were my wins, his excitement my excitement, his worries my worries.

A good book will do that: reach in and grab you by the heart. That early experience made me a lifelong reader. A good book is like a friend; a companion. As I get older I have found myself leaning into the world of words in different ways. Two others come to mind: blogs and letters.

People don’t sit down to letters much anymore. It seems a lost art. I have a handful of people that meet me on the page and it is one of my favorite things in the world. I made a life out of letters and if I could encourage people to do one thing it would be to put pen to paper. A blank page, a favorite pen and a thoughtful sharing. Does it get any better?  Well, yes … it does! There is the tiny square of art that is the postage stamp and that rush that comes when you see that hand addressed envelope in your mailbox.

When I send a card or a letter I am saying I love you.

This year I have also immersed myself in blogs. Back in 2015 I began my first one on Blogger. It went nowhere fast (and at this writing I’m not even sure if it’s still out there). Then in 2016 I came upon a blog writer quite by accident, and the more I read, the more I loved it. (The blog was Daughter on Duty- Gretchen Staebler. It has since grown into a beautiful memoir available in October. You can read all about it here or here) It became my inspiration to have another go at it. Within a few months In Search of the Very was born.

Since then I have sought out like-minded people who write. I suppose we do it for hundreds of different reasons but we seem to gravitate towards one another and offer support and love for the process. I have always wondered who “my tribe” was. It seems to have found me and I am as grateful to my fellow bloggers as I am to those who connect the old fashioned ways; a call, a text, a letter!

Here are a few favorites:

Writing Down the Story

Rivers and Roads PDX

Peer Spirit

Karen Maezen Miller

I’ll share more in the months ahead. For now, I’ll leave you with this:

Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.

-Susan Sontag

19 Comments on “Babies, Blooms and Books

  1. Bonnie, I love how you have turned to reading as a source of inspiration and confidence in your own voice as a writer. I am inspired by your ability to combine your photographic vision with your love of words, careful observations and sharing of stories. You and Gretchen have been role models for me as I search for my own voice as a non-academic writer and naturalist. My hope is that as I begin my 65th year in June I will have the courage to share my own photos and nature stories with you. Thank you for your courage to keep writing and sharing, even when words do not come easily.

    • It means so much to hear you say that, Jude 🧡 I think the trick to it all is to wake up every day as a beginner. If I pack up my curiosity and attentiveness I can see big things through my small lens. I can’t wait for you to share your next chapter! Gretchen has been MY inspiration too. With three there is a circle and we can lift one another up. And so it is.

    • Babies, babies and more babies! And yes, the black phoebe is nesting near where I took that, so I’ll be able to see it often this spring.

  2. My first chapter book was The Hobbit, left in my house when a guest stayed with us. After that I spent many years enthralled with Nancy Drew. That black phoebe is precious and the yellow throat is a new one for me. I’m dying to see a Cinnamon Teal in real life. I love your birds, and your writing, and I thank you for the book recommendations. My 2022 has been dismal too for finishing books, but I’m finally getting into the swing of things. I want to try some of these that you list. Can’t believe that despite how much I loved Bel Canto, I never thought to read any more by Ann Patchett. Just bought This is How it Always Is by Frankel on audible.

    • Wow! Pretty epic start to your reading career! So glad you enjoy the birds. I wonder sometimes if people get sick of seeing so many on my page (not that I would ever stop sharing). I highly recommend anything by Ann Patchett. She is a master of the sentence. And I just really loved This is How it Always Is so much. Let me know what you think.

      • I know, right? Pure luck at age 8 when I didn’t know any better, but awesome. My mom showed me this book when I was about 15 that a friend bought for her, called Lord of the Rings. I had no idea it was by the same author. But by the time I finished it, I assumed that at least half the books in the world must be about hobbits and wizards and dragons.

  3. Such a wonder–from babies to words! I wonder if my first chapter book was The Happy Hollisters, a gift from my Staebler grandmother. If it was first, Heidi followed close behind and gave me my bucket-list item of longest standing: to spend a summer month in a Swiss alpine chalet. As for words, this past week they took the form of a sermon, preached yesterday, that provided the opportunity to process the recent experience in the hospital. Opportunities come in so many guises.

    • Would love to have heard that! Opportunity does rise up in unexpected ways and I have learned a great deal these past few months too. Can you even imagine a world without words?

  4. Thank you, Bonnie Rae, for all your beautiful and thoughtful posts and for recommending books and other blogs that I don’t know at all. Finding one’s tribe is truly something and this is how I often feel about blogging. I have read The Bell and the Butterfly too and watched the film and it’s incredible.

    • It’s my very favorite book. I saw the film too and wondered how they could tell the story but it was really artful and well done. Thanks for the kind words! I will share your blog soon too!

  5. The 3 Bs, a truly inspiring truimvirate! And if you add Blogs to that title I suppose it will be 4, and then Buddies, 5, and Bonnie Rae 6. I don’t remember my first chapter book – I read the entire children’s section of the library as quick as I could. But I do remember when my father told me I was ready for the adult section of the library, led me there and handed me True Grit. Start with this, he said. What a momentous occasion it was somehow. Thank you for all the baby pictures, I don’t have enough babies in my life, though we seem to have a new family of house finches living in the shrubbery this season and I watch for them and listen for their calls every day. Such delight. Thanks for this blog BR, so great to be connected.

    • Truimvirate? Whaaa? I actually love new words and it fits perfectly with my Words Day. Thanks for being in my orbit and for sharing about your jays and finches. Joyful work indeed!

  6. Oh, I love this. Beautiful birds too. (That merganser looks a little huffy about something.) I’m wondering what my first chapter book was. You have such a rich memory, because clearly you had rich experiences. Perhaps mine was The Boxcar Children. I remember loving that series. Or Misty of Chincoteague, and the rest of the series.

    Thank you for the links! (Also, ten books in less than four months is entirely respectable!)

    • I even tracked down that old book and gave it to Natalie. Such a great memory of such a wonderful story. He wrote in such a way that you could imagine every scene and it took a healthy stretch of the imagination to bring it to life. Perfect. And thank YOU, Gretchen, for the continued inspiration 💙 Who knew that a blog could bring me back to myself.

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