When my birthday and holiday time roll around each year, I am always faced with one of the most difficult age-old questions that we as adults could ever contemplate in our lifetime: “What do you want this year?” My wife usually asks this question, followed up by, “What should I tell the kids to get you?” Then, after pretending to think about it for a little while my answer is usually the same, “SOCKS” I say, “can’t have too many good pairs of socks.”
I think most birders and nature lovers live a pretty simple life, especially as we get on in age. We don’t need much; a pair of binoculars, a field guide and a good comfortable pair of shoes (can’t have enough good shoes either).
As time goes by and we have spent many wonderful mornings wandering the woods and meadows of the places we love, most things, like our old field guides, seem to take on a spirit of their own. The torn pages and outdated info cannot lessen the value of a book we held in our hands when we held our child’s hand in the other on our walks together in the woods. No new, updated version could take the place of when we ID’d our first Song Sparrow or Red-tailed Hawk and sorry, No App, as wonderful as they are and as much data as they contain, could ever hold the love and memories we have in that old book.
Of course all of it, the books, the binoculars and yes, even the socks, would not mean as much if we did not have someone with whom to share the love of the birds and nature. It could just be a text message, an email or yes even a phone call that says “Hey! Guess what I saw today” or for that matter, “Guess what I missed today.” Simple words that bring us together with no questions or judgement needed, only a smile or a simple comment such as “NICE” or “Great Day” binds us together forever no matter who we are or what we do.
I think we all actually have birding families to some extent. We may only see them out on the trails, no idea where they live, what they do for a living and sometimes not even really sure of their names. However, they are family nonetheless. When we walk together in places we love, care about the creatures we see together, and recognize each other’s passion for the natural world around us, I don’t know about you, but I call that a real family.
Get outside and make some memories this fall. Dust off the binoculars, open up that old field guide and by all means get a new pair of socks. Connect with the wonders of nature that are all around us, there is nothing else like it.
Hope to see you all in the Meadowlands!