Monday, March 19, 2007

Lord God Bird Books (and movies)

We were having a busy, over-worked weekend, and no one in my family had time to go to a movie. But it was the premier of a work-in-progress about the re-discovery of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, part of the DC Environmental Film Festival. All six of us threw caution to the wind (one had to be bribed with Afgan takeout food), and headed for the theater.

Much to our surprise, the place was brimming with other Lord God Bird fans. We stood next to a bearded man in a tweed sports jacket and chatted, as people smushed together waiting and waiting sometimes do. My gastronomically-motivated son joked that he'd only come because he thought there'd be cajun food (thinking the bird was found in Louisiana, I guess). Our unknown neighbor replied that one always eats Dinty Moore out in the swamp. "You've been out there?" asked I. "Many many times. I just got back from Florida." "You've looked for the woodpecker?" With a wry smile, "I was one of the three discoverers."

For comparison, I think my husband would have been as thrilled as I was if he'd found himself in line with Bob Dylan. My kids were pretty thrilled too, even more so when our line companion appeared as a prominent character in the movie--Bobby Harrison. He's written a children's book, "To Find an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker," which I'm planning to get and read to my youngest. But mainly, he's a bird photographer and founder of The Ivory Billed Woodpecker Foundation . As well as, of course, an adventurer with a passion for the holy grail of many conservationists, the ivory billed.

I've read one award-winning book about the bird--The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, by Phillip Hoose--and have heard good things about another--The Grail Bird, by Tim Gallagher (another of the re-discoverers in the movie). I plan to read the latter and other things that come my way about this beautiful bird and the inspiring efforts of Harrison and others who seek to find and protect it. But the moral of my family's movie-line experience is that we need to put down the books sometimes. Even if we can't get out in the bayou, we can get out in the world (even when we're too busy) and meet others, like minded or not, who will inspire us toward action. And, yes, toward more reading.

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