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By David H. Kelley

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The kind of birder who can look at an Empidonax flycatcher and describe it down to the submolecular level, someone who can study a stint and tell you which side of the nest it fledged from. While it’s wonderful to be thought of as a great birder, it is however, in my case, not true. To paraphrase and apply a favorite old nursery rhyme to my abilities: when I am good, I am middleaverage good; but when I am bad, I am horrid. Horrid! Take, for example, the time I picked out a female diving duck on some lake in Minnesota.

Because they were significant enough to note, and because Earl imbued them with significance. Who knows what is cause and what is effect? All I know is 45 that, as a nine-year-old budding naturalist, I marveled at the storehouse of events recorded in the pages of Earl’s journal and vowed that someday I’d have an entry-rich journal, too. Comets don’t cross the sky every day. Great, journal-worthy events seemed hard to come by at first. So I was forced to look hard and close and long at everyday things to fill those pages.

S. Don’t let this map fall into enemy hands. 44 Explorers (of the Lost World) Club Earl’s Journal This one’s for Earl. The man who introduced me to the most important book I own. It isn’t a field guide. It isn’t a collection of finely wrought essays. What it is is a dog-eared journal, and it records the natural events that have intersected my life. Earl kept such a journal. His example, as well as his approach to the natural world, left their mark upon me. Earl was a farmer. He lived in Ohio. He raised corn and cattle and gladioli.

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