I started my day by bringing into school a bird's nest I found while gardening. I had been meaning to bring it in to share for awhile, but I think I finally remembered to actually do it since my head was anticipating a day in nature. I think that most people see birds' nests as part of the field of science. When I think birds nest I think about Audubon's drawings; I think about Wonder cabinets, stuffed birds in libraries that were popular in the nineteenth century, the specimens of birds I first saw at the Vanderbilt Mansion where I volunteered in high school; I think about the birds who frequent my garden who are different year to year ["the cardinals won the prized tree this year for their nest"]; I think of the stories behind the places where these animals go; I think of collecting; I think of the human hand in the natural world. In short, I think history.
|Doing some surveying work|
I interruppted, "Finding out exactly what happened here would make a GREAT research project." They stopped, looked at me, said "Mmmmhmmm," and moved on. As a high school teacher librarian, in a moment like that, all I can hope is that I planted a seed in someone's brain.
|A "purring" fish. Arawana? I'm not sure of my scientific labeling here|
On our trip, I got to play with a vibrating fish, a star fish arm, periwinkles, crabs, rocks and more. These are the "artifacts" of my science colleagues. They collect them like I collect books and archives. They collect nature while I collect man-made material culture. Humans are all collectors, categorizers and information gatherers at heart!
It was seeing the Isles of Shoals that got my liberal arts side purring. Author Celia Thaxter grew up here. This is where she and my beloved Childe Hassam drew inspiration. This is where Thaxter would bring the plants that she loaded on a small boat in Portsmouth to restock her famed gardens each spring. [see An Island Garden]
As we traveled out to the island, I told some of the students, teachers, and chaperones what I knew about Celia Thaxter. Right in this spot was science, math, history, literature and art rolled up and just waiting for us to explore. So much to see. So much information to take in. So much learning to be done!
I look forward to visiting the Island this summer. It's been calling me for twenty years. It's time to land there. Maybe some of my students' thoughts will follow me there too. Maybe there is another field trip in order.
Many weeks ago I promised a post about the right to copy from archival collections. I will publish that post soon. I have been working hard on it and am backing what I know with research. Copyright is a complicated subject, so I do not want to start people off with basic misinformation. Stay tuned...