Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Old Boots, Books and Binoculars

My new boots arrived in a box left by the front door. Didn’t have to go try them on, talk to a sales person or for that matter admire an assortment of boots sitting on the wall display. Sadly very impersonal I guess. But even so just like some ancient ritual I sat back and applied my waterproofing to the leather, slowly taking my time to work it in really well.

I was reminded of how many times and on how many boots I have performed this ceremonial task over the years. Of course there have been countless other boots, some still sitting in my closet, unable to part with, and others that I remember so fondly from back packing trips, some with blisters and all so many years ago. Of course there were many other boots that were stuck in the Meadowlands mud that had to be pulled out when my feet were not even in them and still others from too many soggy birding trips that I will never forget.

 But that’s how it is with birders and nature lovers. Inanimate objects take on their own personality. Simple things that forever embrace a special memory when doing nothing more than holding them in your hand.

Many friends still hang on to their old binoculars, out of date, low on modern technical advantages but full of memories of family, friends and birds. Hard to part with but they still hold an important place in our hearts. Most now retired to a place of honor to a desk or shelf but sometimes being picked up for a quick glance that will bring back the memories of people and places that we love so much. 

 Old field guides still proudly rest on the door of my truck. Wrinkled and bent pages, loose bindings and many water stains of trips gone by. There are better, more up-to-date field guides for sure. Like the Apps on my phone that will never hold a proper memory or remind me of anything but problems learning how to use my new phone.

Holding an old field guide in your hand, maybe one that your mom, dad or close friend also carried with them can be an almost mystical experience when opened, instantly projecting you to a different place in time. A time when you saw a life bird, sat on a fallen tree as a Red-tail flew close by or when you were unknowingly on that very last field trip with someone special. These books are to be treasured and cherished and always to be held and read, never to be overlooked on a shelf or in a drawer to be forgotten.

Enjoying the natural world and especially birding in the end is all about the friends we made, the birds we have seen and the people and places we have come to love along the way. Memories are made to be cherished and sometimes there are those simple things that help remind us and guide us along life’s journey into the natural world.

If you have something that reminds you of special times and people while out enjoying nature let me know what it is. I would love to hear about it.

2 thoughts on “Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: Old Boots, Books and Binoculars

  1. Lisa Rosenfeld

    You reminded me of the Peterson Field Guide that belonged to my father, it’s faded hard green cover, that he carried with him on his bird watching trips. He took me with him and his group when I was 6 years old, getting up in the dark and driving to a park in Queens, NY. We had the fortune of spotting a Snowy Owl and I learned what an Owl pellet was. My love for nature and birds beginning.


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