And the Dreams You Dare to Dream Really Do Come True…

January 13th, 2015

Birds have led me onto strange and wonderful new directions in my life...

Birds have led me onto strange and wonderful new directions in my life…

Twenty-five years ago, a bird cast a powerful spell upon me.

I grew up in Brooklyn, NY and until the day of my complete and utter enchantment, I didn’t think there was much in the world beyond house sparrows, pigeons, and sea gulls. Not a bad metaphor for my life at the time — which was also often drab, noisy and monotonous. But through some amazing serendipity, I stumbled upon a group of bird-watchers in Prospect Park. Before that fateful day, I had never been there before — and I’m still not sure why I went. But the trip leader saw me looking at their odd little group (I had never seen bird-watchers before either) and asked me if I wanted “to see something really special.”

Now, most New Yorkers (especially young female ones) quickly learn that when a stranger poses such a question, the results are rarely pleasant. But I took a chance. And this “really special thing” turned out to be a rose-breasted grosbeak — a magenta-splashed songbird that simply stunned me with its colorful, delicate presence in such a gritty place. It was like Dorothy arriving in Oz when everything turns from black and white to technicolor. A spell was cast. I would never see the world the same way again.

It’s hard to over-state how much I loved looking for birds. And in the Big Apple, that meant that you sought out a handful of well-known places where numerous species crammed together because that’s all there was left for them. “Urban flyways tend to concentrate migrants,” as we birders say.

It soon wasn’t enough for me either. So again, through magical amounts of serendipity, I discovered New Hampshire. I left my job in Times Square on the last Friday in August and drove up the next day to a rented condo on the side of Crotched Mountain. I clearly remember how excited I was waking up on the first day of my new life. Greenery as far as the eye could see: The Emerald City at last!

And then it dawned on me — holy smokes! The birds could be anywhere! I couldn’t just go to one park anymore and find them all — this whole place was like a park. How was I ever going to find a grosbeak again?

But I did. I learned how to find all kinds of wild things. And even better, I figured out how to let them find me. Now I wake up to the sounds of birds or crickets or even incredible silence, depending on the season. And I think every single day, “It’s true — there is no place like home.”

Because New Hampshire is my home now. I can’t imagine ever leaving this endless wild beauty, this place where I can wander for hours in the woods and never stop being enchanted by it all.

God I hope this spell lasts forever.

— This is a re-post of an article that I wrote for Monadnock Living magazine in 2014 but I think it answer the question of how I came to be a wildlife artist in New Hampshire after growing up in a very urban setting in Brooklyn, kind of.

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