» posted on Sunday, March 22nd, 2015 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – You need a good pair of binoculars. No, first you need plenty of feeders, some big black sunflower seed, and some tiny thistle seed. Add a backyard and a little snowfall now and then and you’ve got yourself a serious detraction from writing. I’m madly pushing myself to meet that deadline I set back in January – to have PAGES on the website for every capital city by March 31. But my computer faces directly on the best bird-watching site this side of an African watering pond full of pink flamingos. I’ve got cardinals – nine brilliant males and their less brilliant but somewhat more charming spouses; and I’ve got finches. Goldfinches I was familiar with, but I’d never seen a purple finch before. I thumbed through my Birds of Arkansas book (Stan Tekiela, 2011) to identify the red birds in the yard that didn’t have a crest like the cardinals. Yes, purple finches have a red head and stick around Arkansas all winter long. According to my bird book, they travel in flocks of 50 and “have a rich loud song.” Why are they called purple finches if they are red? Ah, the Latin species name purpureus means “crimson” or some other reddish color.
Deadlines. And things that get in the way of them. Mark Twain, so the story goes, couldn’t seem to get finished with a certain character named Tom Sawyer. He spent his days strolling the streets of Hartford chatting with neighbors, and his evenings gathering the children in front of the fireplace in the library for “story on the spot” time, lifting items from the mantelpiece and one-by-one incorporating them into a tall tale. It’s said that if he missed an item, the children would squeal in delight and make him go back. Every night a different tale. Now that’s creative, and certainly fun, but it didn’t make for a commercial book. So Mrs Clemens, being a practical woman, banished him to their cottage in the woods until he finished what we know today as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Not being blessed with such a task-master, I goofed off with birds. » read more
» posted on Sunday, October 27th, 2013 by Linda Burton
Linda Burton posting from Hartford, Connecticut – Hartford’s nickname is Insurance Capital of the World, you’ve heard that before. On my first drive-through of this 46th capital city on the Journey Across America, I was surrounded by sparkling highrise office buildings. UnitedHealthcare was spelled out across the top of one; the others I didn’t catch; I was concentrating on street turns to get to the capitol grounds. Ornate Victorian reflected against stark modern in the waning afternoon sun that lit up the gold; gold on the trees; gold on the capitol dome. A pleasant sight; but somewhat contradictory; a mass of intersecting freeways cut through the city, yet the spacious grounds of Bushnell Park were serene; I could hear music, a concert of some kind, from across the tree-lined streets. Mark Twain lived here, back in the 1800s, and once said of Hartford “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief.” I parked at the side of the capitol and struck out under the trees, kicking leaves, and looking both ways – at the old, and the new. Hartford is one of the oldest cities in the country; Dutch explorers came through in 1613; English settlers arrived in 1635; it was named Hartford in 1637. Samuel Stone, one of the original settlers, chose the name to honor his home town of Hertford, England. Hartford is home to the nation’s oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum; the oldest public park, Bushnell Park; the oldest continuously published newspaper, The Hartford Courant. Some famous residents were author and abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) who lived next door to Mark Twain (1835-1910); dictionary author Noah Webster (1758-1843); inventor Sam Colt (1814-1862), financier J P Morgan (1837-1913), and poet Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). So what is the contradictory part? » read more