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Author Topic: Bird Watching in Iraq  (Read 1192 times)

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Offline dmcronin

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Bird Watching in Iraq
« on: July 01, 2006, 04:15:49 AM »
Okay, sounds off topic but I think it is appropriate. This is not a politcal post!

I wanted to tell you all about a book that you should read. Here is the book:

Birding Babylon:  A Soldier's Journal from Iraq, by Jonathan Trouern-Trend, Sierra Club Books.

This book (actually a short compilation of journal entries) is one of those things that come along from time to time to let you know that there is indeed hope for the human race.

This guy from the Connecticut National Gaurd was informed that he was invited to spend some quality time in the entrancing Sunni Triangle in Iraq. He was stationed at Camp Anaconda and saw action (isn't that a wonderful word for combat?) almost daily. The trick is that he is a birdwatcher. He started keeping a journal or what he saw:  Smyrna kingfishers, white cheeked bulbuls, white storks, etc.  So this guy is in the nastiest place on earth for a US soldier and still takes time to observe nature and keep a journal of his observations -  while under mortar and rocket attack. Think about it;   he is in a war zone with all the horror that we all have read about  for years and still finds time to appreciate birds!  I think this book is amazing not for the details of particular birds but for the message it delivers about nature and life.  I quote here from the Economist magazine review of his book:

... the author's joy that "something worthwhile or even magical" could take place amid the horror of war. "Knowing that the great cycles of nature continue despite what people happen to be doing is reassuring," he writes. "There is an order we can take comfort in  and draw strength from."

He even talks about wood pigeons sitting along runways while F-16's tear along with noise, smoke, and death.

My point here is that we should take something from his journal. I had knee surgery recently and have been participaitng on message forums where we all talk about our fears and pain and inconvience of fixing our knees.  It makes me re think my grumbling about not being able to run around in the backyard due to my swollen knee. Here is a soldier in Iraq that has every excuse he needs to say to heck with the human race yet he decides to look at birds and see life as still going on amidst the chaos. If this guy can do what he did under his circumstances then the rest of us should revise our outlook and responses to our daily challenges. I am not making light of many of the painful journeys most us us are experiencing but trying to offer an uplifting look at dealing with pain.

I don't care what you think about the politics of Iraq or if you like birds. You shold check out this short book and use it to uplift your soul.

Lastly, how's this for progress? I read that Iraqi ornithologists are now surveying birds in the southern marshes ( the marshes that were drained by that wonderful philanthropist Saddam Hussein). The marshes are slowly coming back and they are starting to find some bird species  that were feared extinct.  Sometimes when things look bleak we need to take whatever small doses of goodness we can find.

So keep some perspective and take some strength from someone in a tough situation who finds a way to celebrate life !