What I Wanna Be When I Grow Up.

J.J. Audubon's Carolina Parakeets in Birds of America, 1829. (ps-the Academy has this book in its library and displays a new page each week. Stunning!)

An entomologist/ornithologist/art historian. Finally back from Philly and completely exhausted, but I’m glad I stayed the extra day to do site visits. In my job, site visit=sweet behind-the-scenes museum tours. Unfortunately, these opportunities are few and far between, which is a real shame because days like today make the boring parts of my job a bit easier to swallow.

My first stop was to the Academy of Natural Sciences–Department of Entomology (aka BUGS!). These guys were so into their bugs and who can blame them. They have quite a lovely collection that is both scientifically and historically important (some of their collection dates to the early 1800s). Among other specimens, I got to see some crazy rain forest grasshoppers that had disco-party-wings. Glorious shades of hot pink and lime green. Then I went to visit with Nate the ornithologist. Um, Nate, your pheasants are out of this world! Gor-geous. Also saw a nearly extinct Asian chicken that is far too pretty to consider for any cordon bleu. Oh, and then the extinct Carolina Parakeet–collected by Audubon himself!–that rivaled anything currently found in the Caribbean. I walked out of that place ready to start all over as an ornithologist…until I walked into the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and no, I didn’t head in Rocky style).

Spend the day with amazing works of art and some of the prettiest pieces of silver I’ve ever seen? Don’t mind if I do. I was all over that museum both touring on my own and sneaking around behind-the-scenes from the American Decorative Arts storage to the distance-learning lab.

The folks I met both places were nothing if not passionate, and their passion was infectious. I have not yet found a passion that I want to make a career–and maybe I never will. But I’m so glad that these and so many other preservers of our natural and cultural history have. As the weeks move along, and I find myself frustrated with the administrative boredom my job often entails, I will think back to Jon and Greg and Nate and Barbara and David and Lynda and try to remember that without my work, some of theirs would not be possible and our country would be the worse for it. Maybe its not a bad way to spend 8 hours a day after all.

Song du jour: St. Peter’s Bones, Girlyman

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