Synopses & Reviews
Self-Portrait with Turtles is a book in the spirit of Walden and Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, but it is also unique, as David Carroll himself is. Driven by a passion for art and turtles, Carroll has lived a Walden-like life for decades, although he is married, with family. In Self-Portrait he tells the story of that remarkable life. He writes about his early encounters with turtles, which led to a lifelong fascination with them and their swampy habitats, and about the high school teacher who told him that, contrary to everything he had been taught before, art is the only thing that matters, the only thing that lasts. During his years at art school in Boston, he got to know the turtles of the Fenway, including one giant snapper he wrestled to shore and carried to his studio for a portrait session. After a brief career as a teacher, Carroll has spent decades scraping out a living as an artist and naturalist, raising three children on a shoestring with his artist wife. "We live like turtles," he has said; "we hunker down when times get hard." In a materialistic age, he and his family have gone their own way, living simply and self-sufficiently, showing that the secret of a good life is to devote yourself to what you love.
"[Carroll's] words have the ping of authenticity....A pitch-perfect memoir, skirting sentimentality as it embraces sentiment, getting at nature's marvel and its endless transfigurations." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] slight but charming memoir....[T]his is not a natural history of turtles but rather a meditation on the author's life as a naturalist and a paean to the intriguing creatures that lured him to that calling." Publishers Weekly
"[A] wonderful blend of natural history, memoir, and drawings....This beautifully illustrated memoir will be sought out by lovers of good nature writing." Nancy Bent, Booklist
and#8220;We've been knocked to our knees by the delightful illustrated essay collectionand#8230; you don't have to care all that much about birds to get sucked into [Zickefooseand#8217;s] dreamy illustrated stories of bluebirds and phoebes, titmice and ospreys. In delicate, subtle strokes of the pen and brush, she reveals a lifetime of backyard friendshipsand#8212;moments spent observing a bluebird couple or listening to the calls of scarlet tanagersand#8230;.Zickefoose has spent a lifetime observing this particular corner of the domestic-wild world, and she did not escape these experience without gaining both wisdom and humorand#8212;about mates, about our obligation to help others or set them free, about loss and about thankfulness." and#8212;Oprah.comand#8217;s Book of the Week
Library Journaland#8217;s BEST BOOKS OF 2012: Science and Technology
2013 Ohioana Book Award, nonfiction
"Birders will appreciate her meticulous observations and devotion to the avian world, but anyone whoand#8217;s ever considered hanging a birdfeeder is likely to be mesmerized by the sensuous, precise prose as well as Zickefooseand#8217;s vivid portraits of scrawny, fluffy phoebe chicks, a self-possessed hummingbird perched on a clothesline, dwarfed by the surrounding clothespins, and orioles migrating by moonlight. Readers will be astounded by the drama and intelligence fluttering in their backyards." and#8212;Publishers Weekly and#8220;a wonderful amalgam of nature writing and memoirand#8230;This lovely book is one to savor slowly, admiring both writing and artistry.and#8221; and#8212;Booklist, starred review
and#8220;Beguiling stories from a naturalistand#8217;s life with backyard birds....Describing her songbirds with a delicacy of words and brush strokes, Zickefoose makes learning about birds seem like the adventure of a lifetime. A wonderful treat for birders.and#8221; and#8212;Kirkus
"The Bluebird Effect" is a terrific read and a feast for the eyes. Buy! Buy! Buy!"and#160;and#8212;The Charleston Gazette
"insightful essays and lovely illustrations...[Zickefoose has] drawn sketches and painted vivid pictures with words, letting us see much more about those not-so-common lives outside our windows." and#8212;Seattle Times
You don't have to be an avid naturalist to love this poignant book. David M. Carroll is almost unique in his ability to capture nature equally well with his paintbrush, with carefully selected words, and with detailed scientific observations. In Self-Portrait with Turtles he brings to life the crucial moments that have shaped his passion and his talents: his early years in the Old Swamp; the teacher who told him, contrary to everything he had heard, that art is the only thing that matters, the only thing that lasts; his growing sense of the dichotomy between the nature he knew firsthand and the biology he was taught in the classroom; his years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where he got to know the turtles of the Fens, including one giant snapper he wrestled to shore and carried in a wheelbarrow to his studio for a portrait session; his brief career as a teacher; and his decades scraping out a living as an artist, raising three children on a shoestring. He is, as Annie Dillard has said, "A madman, a genius, a national treasure," and in Self-Portrait with Turtles he tells us how he got that way.
A renowned artist, author, and naturalist, David M. Carroll is exceptionally skilled at capturing nature on the page. In Self-Portrait with Turtles, he reflects on his own life, recounting the crucial moments that shaped his passions and abilities. Beginning with his first sighting of a wild turtle at age eight, Carroll describes his lifelong fascination with swamps and the creatures that inhabit them. He also traces his evolution as an artist, from the words of encouragement he received in high school to his college days in Boston to his life with his wife and family. Self-Portrait with Turtles is a remarkable memoir, a marvelous and exhilarating account of a life well lived.
Through raising and rehabilitating birds, Julie Zickefoose pulls back a curtain on their motivations, desires, and even emotions.and#160;This bookand#160;is a visual feast, lavishly illustrated withand#160;watercolors and field sketches.
Julie Zickefoose lives for the moment when a wild, free living bird that she has raised or rehabilitated comes back to visit her; their eyes meet and they share a spark of understanding. Her reward for the grueling work of rescuing birdsand#8212;such as feeding baby hummingbirds every twenty minutes all day longand#8212;is her empathy with them and the satisfaction of knowing the world is a birdier and more beautiful place.
The Bluebird Effect is about the change that's set in motion by one single act, such as saving an injured bluebirdand#8212;or a hummingbird, swift, or phoebe. Each of the twenty five chapters covers a different species, and many depict an individual bird, each with its own personality, habits, and quirks. And each chapter is illustrated with Zickefoose's stunning watercolor paintings and drawings. Not just individual tales about the trials and triumphs of raising birds, The Bluebird Effect mixes humor, natural history, and memoir to give readers an intimate story of a life lived among wild birds.
About the Author
David Carroll is the author of The Year of the Turtle and Trout Reflections. A graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and of Tufts University, he has received an honorary doctorate from the University of New Hampshire and an Environmental Merit Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for his work on wetlands. He and his wife, Laurette, also an artist, live in Warner, New Hampshire.
Table of Contents
The First Eight Years · 3
The First Turtle · 5
Compañera · 10
Another Spring · 17
Wild Boy · 25
Loss · 34
Gordon · 38
Mr. Moxley and Mr. Malone · 39
The Beach · 41
Bill and DeDe · 45
Cedar Pastures · 50
Walden · 58
Art, Biology, Writing · 61
My Room · 67
The Fens · 69
Girls · 72
The Ark · 74
Drawing, Painting, Writing · 79
Laurette · 84
Queensbury Street · 86
Farewell to Cedar Pastures · 92
Big Sandy Pond · 97
Teaching · 103
Turtles · 105
The Old Johnson Farm · 114
Pumpkin Hill · 122
Wild Cranberries · 133
Archie Carr · 135
Sibley · 141
The Digs · 143
Dudley House · 146
Spotted Turtles · 148
The Year of the Turtle · 154
Tupper Hill · 159
Return of the Native · 165
The New Land · 169
Ariadne Nesting · 171