about birds and books

my friend aaron zacharias – not aaron the walker but aaron the painter – shares this beautiful story:

thursday, one of my clients, on a whim wanted us to go downtown and visit the library. then he asked if we could look around in a couple of antiquarian bookstores on pender.

in one of these stores i came across a book that was very familiar to me. i’d run across this book before in this bookstore, but didn’t pay it much heed: it’s titled “birds of america”, and it is very beautifully illustrated.

when i was eleven years old my mother had given me a copy of this book as a gift, because she wanted to encourage my love of birds and art. i kept this book with me (it is very large and quite thick) until i became homeless in 1998, and i had to give up most of my personal possessions.

this thursday, while visiting this bookstore, the book caught my eye for some reason. i looked carefully at the worn cover, the markings on it, then i skimmed through the pages. i suddenly realized that this was the very book i had given up! and i knew that i must get it back.

over the next couple of days i thought and prayed about it. then, yesterday i acted. i returned to the bookstore. the book was still there. i bought it, and told the proprietor about its significance to me. he seemed genuinely moved, and did not charge me tax. i thanked him for keeping it safe for me and took it home.

now that i have this book at home, i know beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt that this is the book my mother bought me. the art work in it also has strongly influenced the way i paint birds. i feel that this book represents something much larger that has just been restored to me and i feel, in a word, overwhelmed.

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