The Naturalist Life

July 7th, 2021


One of my favorites asked me if I wanted to sign up for a local birding workshop with her. Turns out we’ve both been spending a lot of time listening to the birds from our beds in the morning. 

“Isn’t interest in birding a sign of old age?” she asked me.

“If it is, we’re aging gracefully,” I said.

It’s true that the youth aren’t all that interested in bird calls, for some reason. I regularly ask my kids to pause and listen to the call of the phoebe, and their eyes instantly glaze. This is the bird that shares my daughter’s name, and they’re everywhere in the woods of these hilltowns. There’s actually another bird, called the peewee, that sounds very similar to the phoebe. It takes a trained ear to tell the difference. Even more complicated, these birds tend to live in the same trees.

Are you bored yet? This has been a test. If you’re still reading, you’re officially old.

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Not to say that my kids aren’t budding naturalists. They’ve always been very comfortable in the dirt and down home with outdoors creatures. They also have a predilection for eating things they find growing in the yard, which was exacerbated by a week spent at BEEC camp (a wonderful local naturalist camp and nonprofit) last week. This seems to have heightened their interest in edible wild plants, as evidenced by the fact that my daughter came home from the park with dad feeling quite green the other day. 

“Is she okay?” I asked. 

“She’s totally fine, just maybe ate too much grass at the park.” This was Jon’s response.

This was a red flag to me, because, well, she’s not a cow.

Sure enough, in the middle of dinner, she hurled green liquid all over the table, her food, and the floor. While I suspect this is a right of passage for parents, as a clinical emetophobic, I really hope this never happens to me again. 

Of course, Jon, who is a nurse, finished his dinner. I, on the other hand, think I have finally found a cure for my healthy appetite.

You might think this experience would have taught her a lesson, but you would be wrong. The very next morning, she came inside with a handful of chamomile blossoms and other yard detritus she found, and asked me to make tea.

“But wash it first,” she warned me. “There was some poop or something on it.”


As soon as she left, I threw it in the compost. If she questions me, I’ll use the chamomile tea from my tea cabinet and lie to her. Hopefully, by the time she can see through my lies, she’ll have more common sense. There has to be a relationship between those two conditions, right?

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What I’m reading:

Lit by Mary Karr

What I’m listening to:

Great podcast episode on Decoder Ring about the myth of hydration that made me feel personally validated in my hopeless quest to ever drink enough water.

What I’m watching:

Framing Britney Spears was pretty sad. I once thought she was a laughable hot mess. I now own this fucked up POV. 

What I’m eating:

I made these and whoa: Coconut Ice Cream Sandwiches With Salty Chocolate Shell

What I’m working on:

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