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Zick Alert! Spotted, Heading East!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The season is upon us, that season of woodcocks, cardinal song and leggy seedlings crying for transplant. The season of greening grass and mucky mud and days when the sun pops out and threatens (if you don't open the greenhouse door) to flash-fry in minutes everything you've been growing in a big plastic box since November.

First harvest of greenhouse-grown Swiss chard. Went into two quiches! Needs planted out!!*

It is also the season of travel and speaking engagements for Zick. I've just aired a new talk, half based on The Bluebird Effect and half on my new book, whose working title is Baby Birds: An Artist Looks Into the Nest. That one's due out in spring 2016, if I can finish it by this time in 2015.

Praying helps.

I've learned to accept that, once spring travel and yardwork start, once the phone begins to ring constantly with baby birds and cottontail rabbits, busted hawks, orphaned bluebirds and baby owls and the latest poor creature that's been pulled from a housecat's jaws, I get essentially nothing done at the drawing board. This is who I am in spring: a frantic, fragmented, giddy, sore-muscled garden mule/public speaker who leaps one hurdle after another trying to keep up with the unkempt, dizzy life I've crafted for myself. I sent in my rehab permit renewal late this winter, shaking my head, knowing that I wouldn't be able to do anything more than answer the phone and counsel everyone who's found a baby whatever, knowing that I'd have to start wincing whenever the phone rang after April 1. I sent it in because everybody has my number anyway, and I might as well be legal about what little I can do for lost and injured wild things. I renewed my permit also because I am crazy.

Yes, that's a headless mouse in my glove. Phoebe took this photo. She loves it because I look so happy and the owl looks so pissed off.

Having said all that, I am very much looking forward to traveling east tomorrow, even though the roses need pruned** and the garden needs tilled*** and the brown thrasher is singing in the yard and we all know what THAT means. The peas need planted!**** HOWEVER. I've been hoping for years to be asked to speak to the

  Linnaean Society of New York, at the American Museum of Natural History. That will happen at 7:30 PM Tuesday, April 8, 2014.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and will be held in the Kaufman theater. Enter the museum on 77th St. between Columbus and Central Park West, and follow signs to the Kaufman theater on the first floor. You may want to arrive early to take in a 6 pm presentation by Jeffrey Kimball, filmmaker of The Central Park Effect, one of the birdwatching films that presents a realistic picture of our odd tribe. More information at the Linnaean Society website.

If the weather permits, I will be signing and selling copies of my book,  The Bluebird Effect, under the dome just outside the 77th St. entrance to the museum after the talk. Please let it be warm that evening. 

The next evening, I'll give the same talk in Connecticut.

Greenwich Audubon, 613 Riversville Rd., Greenwich, CT, 6 pm. Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

$10 per person. Under 21 years old free. Reception and book signing with the presenter: 6:00-7:00 pm. Presentation starts at 7:00 pm. RSVP greatly appreciated. RSVP via or leave a voicemail at 203-869-5272 x239. Directions at this link.

See the excellent writeup on the Greenwich Audubon website , in which they make this somewhat reckless statement: "The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds is likely the only nature book ever to have been reviewed favorably in the New York Review of Books (by Linnaean past president Robert O. Paxton) and to have been chosen Book of the Week by Oprah Winfrey."


The next night, I'm traveling up the Connecticut coast to speak to Potapaug Audubon. I was active with the chapter from 1981-1991, and I wanted to see if anyone still remembered me in Old Lyme and Essex. I wanted to go around some of my old stomping grounds, see a couple of dear friends. 

Thursday, April 10th, 2014, 7 pm. "The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds"
Location: Old Lyme Town Hall

52 Lyme St., Old Lyme, CT

More information at this link. 

Then I'll go see my two sisters, their families, and my mom, Ida, who turns 94 in May.

It'll be a busy, sweet, and bittersweet time. Join me if you can.

*, **, *** and ****: Southern Ohio vernacular. After 23 years here, it has seeped into my everyday speech. The horror! Can "ain't" be far behind?


Don't forget that the New York Botanical Garden has their orchid show going right now. Maybe that would be a good stop on your way to Connecticut?

Hi, Julie I always feel overwhelmed with the garden work alone in the spring- waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the basic maintenance things that need doing, the planting and then all the new design things I want to do. This year I'm starting my new garden coaching business so things feel even more overhwhelming. I can't imagine doing those things as well as the rehab, the speaking, the writing and painting (maybe) and the everyday family stuff that's all on your plate. I'm praying for extra energy for you, for the ability to take one thing at a time and enjoy it as it happens and for times of peace and rest along the way (same things I'm asking for for myself). Blessings to you and thanks for sharing your everyday life with us so beautifully.

Posted by Anonymous April 6, 2014 at 6:24 AM

What an incredibly rich and full spring you have planned. Your rehab work is admirable. Not only have you healed, mended and comforted but you have also enlightened those of us who would otherwise not be aware of what goes on with these vulnerable little beings. (Of course Chet does get a little credit here because it was through him that many of us met you). It is so nice that you will be able to see old friends and the best part is to be able to end it all with the person who started it all. To quote part of your dedication in The Bluebird Effect, "For Ida Zickafoose. Thank you for your love of words and for letting me bring those things into the house". From all of us, we thank you too Ida.

Posted by Lucy from MN April 6, 2014 at 9:26 AM

That's quite an itinerary. Whoever is lucky enough to cross paths with you (and that could be any kind of mammal, bird, reptile, or fish) is always in the gentlest of hands. You make me wish I was still living back east and that's quite a feat!

Love that photo of you and your mom.

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