Birds, Ballots, Barrett

2020-10-27T10:24:52-07:00Categories: faith and doubt, featured posts, feminism, hiking, memoir, nature, politics, reading, Uncategorized, women's rights|Tags: , , , , , |

I once visited a bird hide (or blind, as we call them in North America) in the wet, windswept fens of East Anglia, far to the northeast of London. That is all. Please forgive me, birders of the world; I remember nothing, at least nothing that has to do with birds. I was 19, and a newly arrived exchange student at the University of East Anglia, whose concrete, mid-1960s buildings resemble oversized bird hides. UEA is on the outskirts of Norwich, which is still the lively market town it was when William the Conqueror built his castle there a thousand years ago. I loved Norwich, but I was always game for an excursion. Bird-watching: why not? That faded memory tugged at me through all 458 pages of Helen Macdonald’s book of essays, Vesper Flights. My acquaintance with the young man who invited me to the bird hide was so fleeting that I can only remember a bit of what he looked like: droopy mustache, watch cap, wellies. A sweet smile. Not actually a UEA student; I met him at a party. When I told my cross-the-hall friend Bridget about his invitation, she decided she and her boyfriend Chris would go birding too. They would drive me, and we would meet my new friend there. So off we went in Chris’ Morris Mini, across the low-slung fens, to a long, equally low-slung wooden shack that blended right into the landscape, which of course was the point. My birder friend waved at us. “Hi!” I shouted happily. He [...]