Memorial Day is supposed to be a day of remembrance for the soldiers who never made it home, but more often than not, it turns into a celebration of the beginning of summer for many families. As we lose another generation of veterans to inevitable old age, the memories of those who fell in combat during their time of service become lost. But it doesn't have to be so. Not everyone who is a storyteller has a gift for writing or the confidence to put pen to paper.
Recently, I have been reading two different books on the same subject. Both are memoirs in the form of short stories. One author started publishing his books (I've only been reading one at this time) after approximately two decades of experience. The other published after five years. For someone interested in the topic, both books are entertaining, but I find much more satisfaction in the storytelling of the elder writer. His writing has a beautifully reflective quality that results in a wonderful sense of humor, irony, and spirituality. I do not mean to say the younger writer's stories are not enlightening, but his storytelling does show his comparative youth. His focus gets wrapped up in the excitement of first time experiences and the relevant facts as to why these instances during his career brought him such joy. In essence, he is an adventurous nerd.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent several days with my DSLR camera, enjoying the spring weather and searching out wildflowers and migrating birds. I've captured some beautiful shots, found birds I don't often get a chance to photograph, and come across some things I had not thought to see at all. Some of my camera walks I've done as part of my job and so had been allowed to spend office hours reviewing and editing those photos. And during that time, I realized why I have a bad habit of putting off photo editing. Even if a day's set is well-composed and requires little time per photo during editing, it is still a very time-consuming process for me. And that can be quite frustrating.
Now that we are into May, my spring fieldtrip season is in full swing. I'm teaching classes on wetlands, wildlife, plants, and ecology every week. It's a great time to introduce students to the changes in the environment around them as spring slowly drifts into summer. Often it amazes me what things are completely unfamiliar to them, such as willow flowers, crayfish, or salamanders. But it's also exciting to introduce them to things for the first time that I usually take for granted. Even though these students are with me for only a few short hours out of their entire academic childhood, sometimes it's enough to open new doorways for them and spur them into a lifelong love of nature.