Tag Archive: boating


How to Have a Big Year

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This past week, I noticed a lot of stuff as I drove or walked around our community.

The town accountant readied his boat for a cruise or perhaps some fishing on April 16th. Yep, he probably deserves a break right about now.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

Look, even the tulips are getting in the act.

As I walked Lady around, I noticed all of the beautiful spring flowers and flowering bushes- daffodils, narcissus, crocus, blue star, and forsythia – in bloom right now. In my own garden I have a new narcissus I am pretty sure I did not plant. I love those surprise volunteers.

Last week, I came home after a night of work only to hear the frogs from the nearby pond. It is about a quarter mile from my house as the crow flies. But the frogs were making a racket that made me think about opening the window so I could fall asleep to that sound.

But that might not have been the best sound. Hearing the birds make a racket might have been the best sound. I could pick out the red wing black birds and the bird that makes a sound like a Star Wars fighter plane. I am seeing blue jays and cardinals. Occasionally, I hear a wood pecker working on a tree but I haven’t seen one yet.

Birding is a different type of sport. It becomes more about making the impossible sighting, the wondrous vagrant, the birds sent off course by storms and high winds. I know parents of college friends who go to Texas for the winter not to winter but to work at a bird sanctuary. Walking into the woods with Neil Case is never a straight forward hike, you are going to see things.

While I enjoy watching the birds that come to our feeders, I never knew or imagined that there was such a thing in the birding world as a Big Year. This is when bird watching enthusiasts take a calendar year from January 1 till December 31 to see as many birds as you possibly can. The record is over 700 species seen in a one year period.

The Big Year PosterI became interested in finding all of this stuff out when the kids turned on this movie, The Big Year (2011) one night during spring break. Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson are three men who decide to do a Big Year in the same calendar year. Martin and Wilson are wealthy businessmen while Black is a working stiff getting over his divorce.

The Black character does everything he can, including racking up several credit cards to the limit, to do this Big Year thing which means a lot of traveling across the United States and Canada in order to see over 700 varieties of birds from North America and others that get blown off course. This includes Alaska, Florida, Texas, boat tours on the Pacific, and Colorado. They will miss work, spouses, and the little things to make this dream of seeing every possible species come true.

I found this movie worthwhile although slowly paced at times. It is a movie meant for adults, context-wise, but my ten-year-old could watch it for the most part. As we watched this movie while at my parents’ house, I wondered if my dad had ever seen it or if he would watch it. There were some exciting moments of almost making the plane and almost catching sight of a bird but no explosions or gun fights.

Perhaps Dad would have just changed the channel if he saw this movie coming on.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Digging in the Bookpile

Nightly book reading has been fun as we are delving into some new books (from Grandma) and finding old favorites.

For whatever reasons, the kids have pulled out our Bur Bur books and finding out why we liked them in the first place.

Book Cover image from Borders.com

I first discovered Bur Bur a few years ago when I interviewed JoAnne Pastel and Kakie Fitzsimmons. As parents of multi-racial and multi-cultural children with a love of the outdoors, they were having a hard time finding books that spoke to their children.

Necessity is the mother of invention so they made their own books featuring Bur Bur. Bur Bur goes fishing and boating and makes the first pitch at a ball game.

There are various parts of the picture to look at and count. You can find colors and animals. We have a lot of fun reading Bur Bur. One of my favorite pictures is “H  is for Horn.” Bur Bur talks about how dad lets him do the horn every now and again. And the horn sounds off. There is not a sound chip in the book but you just know.

You can find the books at the Bur Bur and Friends website.

My book reading as of late came from one of the other mom’s on my son’s tee ball team. We talk of books and I mentioned how much I have been enjoying some vampire series. She talked about Alice Hoffman whom I have never heard of.

Book Cover Image from Borders.com.

Well, I should know her because the movie Practical Magic was based on her book of the same name. I love that movie. While researching I found out that the movie took liberties with parts of the story (surprised? I hope not) but retained the essentials of a modern-day fairy tale.

In Second Nature,  we are traversing through that sort of story as well. A woman bring home a man about to be locked in a mental institution. He was found in the woods of Michigan, hurt and surrounded by wolves.

Is it realistic that she could have done this or that he would be raised by wolves from an early age? That he could so quickly fit into her world or that they would fall in love with each other almost instantly? Probably not. But other touches are very realistic. A vindictive ex-husband. A feisty grandfather. Young lovers forced into the open and a friend suddenly angry about it.

I enjoyed the reading, enjoyed how the story was told from the various perspectives, including the ex-husband who realizes he is turning into a person he does not want to be. Flights of fancy are written in such a grounded manner, it all seems logical and right.

I stayed up one night because I could not put it down, on the day I was given the book. That is what a good book should do for you.

What have you been reading?