A few months ago I was asked to speak for the Blatchley Nature Study Club in Noblesville, Indiana. This is an old school nature club founded in 1922 in response to a stong interest to study and learn about birds.
I’ve never visited the club, but I’ve been intrigued by its existence for several years. The club has a small clubhouse on a parcel of wooded bottom-land along White River. Legend (That’s almost the right word) reports that their parcel is rich in bird activity and the clubhouse shelters an amazing collections of natural history artifacts. I’m intrigued. More importantly I’m humbled and honored.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to approach this public discussion. I’m knowledgeable aboout my subject matter, but not in the manner that serious birders are. I’ve pondered this a bit and have decided that that is no problem. I know birds as a vernacular artist and naturalist. There are no apologies to make for not having a lengthy life-list or identifying obscure warblers by call alone. These folks are coming to hear the vernacular artist/naturalist and we will learn from one another.
I have written that every bird carved has a personal connection to my life (even the non-bird narwhal). Most of these stories are not earth shattering or terribly unusual, but the accumulation of a life-time of being conscience of the birds around me has some value.
Just yesterday I shared an tidbit with a new facebok friend. Her status was about chimney swifts. I related that, as a child, we had swifts in our chimney. I remember them singing while I practiced tromone below them. I also remember looking up the chimney and seeing tails sticking out from the nests platered on the sided of the chimney.
I’ll never forget the time I pulled a small row boat through the brush along the coast of Maine. Within a tiny sheltered cove (The entire boat didn’t even fit) I came across a black crowned night heron frozen in fear. I’d never seen a bird like it. The next day I asked an elderly neighbor about it and he produced a picture in his Peterson Field Guide. I was eleven or twelve.
(Funny … I’ve never carved a chimney swift or a black crowned night heron.)
Through these stories I will share my motivation, technique, influences and experiences developing a body of work around my birds.
Come and talk. It’ll be great, it’s free and there will be snacks!
Thursday, May 27
Blatchey Nature Study Club
125 Boulder Drive (Near Potter’s Bridge)