I sat down at my desk tonight and noticed something about all the junk that’s piled there. I always have a stack of field guides there that are in direct correlation to the season, but regardless of the season the one that is always on top is my old Peterson Field Guide to the Birds.
I’ve collected hundreds of field guides over the years but for some reason this one is always at the top of the stack. I don’t really consider myself a birder but this book… when I think about it, really is the one that started my field guide collection. This was my mom’s book that dates back to the 80’s, and she let me use it a few months before she passed away.
This book is beat up bad, I’ve re-surfaced both the front and back covers with contact paper because they are so worn. When I open this book it’s like an old friend that’s comfortable to have in your hands. It’s filled with notes and highlighter markings. I actually have two other copies of this same book, one is crisp and new and the other is old but in very nice shape, and either would make a suitable replacement for this book, but I could never bring myself to make that change. I don’t know if it’s because it was my mother’s book, or if it’s because I truly am a closet birder, but I don’t think I could bring myself to ever retire this book in my lifetime. As I flip through the pages I can see that the spine is giving way and I’m going to soon be taping pages back in, which is exactly what I’m going to do when the time comes.
With all the reference material that is available online now it’s funny how I find myself clinging to some of my old field guides. It doesn’t bother me though because pretty much every summer I run into someone someplace out in nature identifying something and I’ve seen plenty of old beat up field guides in hand.