I just didn’t get around to dyeing Easter eggs this year. Somehow the sparkle from this childhood tradition has faded, and I’m perfectly content leaving the job to someone else in the family (thanks, mom). As we were reminiscing over Easters past, I made mention of one of my most definitive Easters. My mother had taken pictures of my grandpa hiding the eggs, and to my shock, horror and dismay I discovered that a big white bunny did not lovingly hide my eggs in the backyard. And you guessed, it all unraveled from there — every bit of it — Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, all the magic…poof.
We all remember it, when the reality of life sets in, and we become just a little deflated.
Teaching high school, my naiveté has waned, but I try to look at a few things through rose-colored glasses. Today marks the 226th birthday of John James Audubon. For you non-birders out there, Audubon is the French-American ornithologist responsible for identifying, documenting and sketching North American Birds. His sketches of over 700 birds are beautiful, depicting the minute details of each species in their natural habitat. I have two prints hanging on my living room wall (note: avian themes are so in for all you decorators out there).
Imagine my surprise, when one night I watch a PBS special on Mr. Audubon, only to learn that while he was researching birds in the swamps of Louisiana he shot them and pinned them to a grid to accurately sketch them.
He. Shot. Them.
Now, I’m no animals rights activist, but it never occurred to me that he would have to shoot the birds to sketch them. Really, Jamie? Perhaps when he sketched the Great Blue Heron he said, “Excuse me, Mr. Heron, crane your neck a little to the left. Alright, that’s good. Freeze.” Or maybe, just maybe the Ruby Throated Hummingbird who sits still for all of 19 seconds had pity on Mr. Audubon and decided to take an hour-long break.
I know, I know. Like I said, Easter Bunny and Santa Claus all over again — a little deflated.
Regardless of his methods, I’m not going to hold a grudge. He left us a beautiful glimpse into the lives of our feathered friends. Happy Birthday, Johnny.