John James Audubon’s father wanted his son to be a navy guy, but luckily for us he flunked the officers’ qualification test and happily went back to studying birds, traipsing around America and drawing what he saw. Back then some birds were so unused to humans that they had no fear and sometimes would alight upon a person’s shoulder in curiosity. Enormous flocks of birds could cloud a sky for hours on their travels and John James was there to witness it.
He came to stay with the Blackwell family, fell in love with the daughter, fell into a river and came out with a fever–his future wife Lucy at his side. To please Lucy’s father he went into the import/export business and was married a few months later to the girl who shared his passion for the natural world. In fact Lucy so admired John’s work she supported him by working as a teacher when times were lean. I wonder now if she ever felt annoyed at not getting enough credit. As humans we’re quite obsessed with getting credit, aren’t we?
I like it when people without advanced degrees set up their own museums and conduct experiments just because they want to–what joy! John banded Eastern Phoebes and proved they returned to the same nesting spots year after year. What a nice thing to prove and how many of us like to investigate things and wait a year for answers?
School makes us ask permission. May I draw? Can I go to the bathroom? Of course you can–hahaha–yawn. Teachers are so amusing. Can I–I mean may I think my own thoughts, investigate things teachers don’t care about, correct the teacher? No. Not now, it’s time for another assembly about turning in your friends for bullying.
The theme this week seems to be that you don’t need money or permission to do stuff. Band your birds, investigate your options, thumb your nose at the culture and the counter culture and every other social grouping that clips your wings.