You probably know that I love to host authors on my blog to introduce you to new reading opportunities.When COVID showed up it made me contemplate if what I ‘normally’ do is enough. For those of you whose lives have been impacted directly by COVID, through loss of loved ones or jobs, please know how sorry I am for you. Yet, even if you don’t know someone who contracted COVID, your life has definitely been impacted. Because those impacts vary greatly, I wanted to reach out to the creative community to see how the pandemic has impacted their art.
Today we are visiting with Jeanette Larson, author of Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore in the Americas.
Welcome back to Strands of Thought, Jeanette. For those who didn’t see your original interview (just a few years ago!) or those with short memories, why don’t you start by telling us about you.
Jeanette: I’m a retired librarian. Although I wrote books for the profession, I never really thought I had anything to say in a book for young people. Until I met hummingbirds. These fascinating little creatures inspired me to write Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas, with amazing fabric art illustrations by Adrienne Yorinks. One of the interesting things about writing this book is that it allowed me to finally use my anthropology degree!
In addition to working in several libraries, including the Texas State Library, I taught children’s literature and youth services classes for Texas Woman’s University and the University of Texas at Austin. I also was an independent trainer and consultant.
During my retirement I helped found a bird rehab and rescue organization in Rockport, TX. I currently live in the Austin area and continue to bird and volunteer with Travis Audubon Society. My husband and I share our home with our dog, Zoey, and two cats. Zoey enjoys travelling with us when we are able to move about the country.
Kai: I miss traveling! My husband and I recently went on a 8 day camping trip. I almost forgot there was a pandemic. Wonderful trip.
So, the pandemic. How is it impacting you? Are you stuck at home during the quarantine or are you “essential?”
Jeanette: I’m retired so definitely not “essential.” My husband and I spend a lot of time at home anyway with out dog, Zoey, and our cats but we have felt a bit stuck. Thankfully, our neighborhood pool is now open, and we are usually the only ones there early in the morning, so we are getting out and getting some exercise. Mostly my dog feels stuck because we can’t take her to the dog park and her friends won’t come visit to play with her.
Kai: It’s crazy how different the closures are across the country, too. Our dog parks are open (thank goodness!) Even though you haven’t necessarily garnered more time through this pandemic, being retired, you mentioned feeling stuck. What do you wish you would have accomplished during all of this that you just haven’t managed to?
Jeanette: I finally have started to write another book, but I should have actually finished it by now. I wish I had finished cleaning up my office. It seems like the more stuff I sort to get rid of, the more stuff collects. I’m scared that I will be the old lady who dies with a house full of junk that someone else has to clean out. So, I’m trying to de-clutter and give away things.
Kai: Have any new good habits arisen?
Jeanette: My husband and I are both cooking and baking more. Since we are limited in the restaurants we can actually go to, we are eating out less and doing less pickup so we are eating healthier and fresher.
Kai: That’s great! What do you imagine your readers are doing during the pandemic?
Jeanette: Readers of my book, Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas are actually birding more during the pandemic. It’s one of the outdoor, socially isolated activities we can enjoy. Migration is starting so the hummingbirds are moving through. I’ve been mentoring a young birder who enjoys the mythology about hummingbirds but my book is also enjoyed by adults.
Kai: What do you miss the most while so much of the world is closed or partially open?
Jeanette: I really miss travelling. We had a river cruise in the Northwest scheduled for last April and had to cancel. So many states are requiring a 14-day quarantine, so we haven’t gone anywhere. I literally laugh each time I get asked the “COVID questions.” Sure, where would I have been able to go? Even a one night overnight seems so perilous that we haven’t done that except for a medical visit in Houston.
Kai: All of the changes have really made you re-evaluate every move, hasn’t it?
Thank you for visiting and sharing with us how you’re getting through this pandemic. I hope you and your husband stay healthy! Before we go, tell us where our readers can learn more about you and your work?
Jeanette: I have a blog, Bird Brainz, https://jeanettelarson.blogspot.com/, where I write about books on birds and birding. One neat thing about the blog is that it includes a list of all of the bird-related books I mention. Books and the blog posts are of interest to various age groups. My website is http://jeanettelarson.com/ but I don’t keep it up as much as I should.