My first memorable moment was when I was four or five and my parents caught someones pet Jackdaw and shut it in the coal shed so that the owner could collect it.
I was fascinated by this bird and, when the man came to retrieve his bird, he placed it on my shoulder... so for a few minutes I was eye to steely blue eye with a tame Jackdaw. I've had a very soft spot for these smart and intelligent beasts ever since. That was '54 or '55.
Then there were the books that I was allowed to look at once I could read properly. Among these were my father's old schoolday "Rambler" books...
|Yes... I've still got them!!
Volume 3, my other copy was "Insects and Spiders".
|The Field Series and page 55 in detail
When I visited my Grandfather's house, he had a series of six nature books from the turn of the 20th Century.... these are now mine. The have informative articles on different aspects of Natural History.... and a 'fold-out' dissection in the front of each book!! These were opened carefully for me to look at.... NOT TOUCH! Which is why they are in such good condition now. My father's "Spring" Rambler book has had the black & white line drawings "coloured" by someone using wax crayons.... most probably me!! [Not too badly most of them... but the Larch is a right mess!!]
|The spine of Vol 6 and the fold out Swallowtail
|And now folded out.... but there is more!
|Now the "dissections" are folded open.
Perhaps though the nail in the coffin.... or should that be the icing on the cake, was the boxed copy of Fabre's Book of Insects.
Fabre's writing and observation, carefully translated into English along with some beautiful illustrations, has kept my interest alive throughout the intervening years.... I dip in and out as the mood takes me.
|Two of the illustrations are shown here as is the little biography mentioned below.
Then I was bought a membership of the RSPB.... the badge that came with it I still possess and wear.... and my first equipment.... an old pair of opera glasses [magnification x3] and a large lens of around x4 that folded inside a leather case; these in a shoulder bag that had room for a book. No pencil, no notepad.... no one encouraged me to take notes or make sketches.... rather, I was encouraged to remember and describe. But describe "without using the hands".... perhaps paper was expensive in the late 50's... perhaps it was just Dad's way?
But, hey! The sun is shining at last and there is a Kestrel hovering over our potager.... now, where are my "macronoculars"?