a childhood saved

Nature Journals

Journal: 1971-1972

Journal: 1973

Journal: 1974-1975

I started keeping a nature journal in 1971, when I was 12 years old, and stopped four years later. I started up a journal again when I went to college in 1977, maintaining it off and on for another five years. For now, this site includes only my journal from 1971-75.

First, a bit of orientation. The map below (redrawn from an old pencil sketch that wouldn't scan well) shows the area around my house, including landmarks mentioned in the journals and sketchbooks.

map of our property

My father bought this place in September 1959, about eight months after I was born. The real estate agent's brochure describes the property as "a small country estate," and I guess it was, although I don't think of us as having been wealthy enough to own an estate. My father had left his management job at Avro Aircraft near Toronto, after the traumatic cancellation of the Avro Arrow project, and moved to New York to become director of research and development for the New York City Port Authority. He didn't want to live in the city, so for almost 20 years he commuted by train and subway from Croton to his office in downtown Manhattan. He hated New York, so we hardly ever went there as a family. In the 17 years that I lived within an hour's drive of the city, I set foot there perhaps five times.

I have two older brothers and an older sister. I caught some of my curiosity about nature from my brothers, who spent a lot of time in the woods and on the pond taking photographs, catching snakes and frogs, fishing, and messing around in boats.

The house is still there today, but my father sold it in the early 1990s and the new owners put on several large additions, hired professional landscapers to spruce up the grounds, and rebuilt the guest cottage. I haven't been back in five years or so, but the last time I was there I barely recognized it.

On to the journals, which are split up into separate pages: 1971-1972, 1973, and 1974-1975. I got more wordy as I grew older, so there's a lot more material in the 1973-74 notes. There's only one entry for 1975; by that time I was becoming distracted by other interests, including woodcarving and traditional music.

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