When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise -
Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
-- John Keats, 1816
From Oak Harbor, Ohio, Kenn writes: The verse above, the latter half of a sonnet, represented Keats's reaction after first reading the George Chapman translations of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. In modern language, Keats might have written, "Whoa! This knocked my socks off!" But fortunately he didn't. His historically inaccurate, but surely vivid, reaction is still being quoted two centuries later as an example of how a work of literature can produce a powerful emotional response.
We thought about this last night, when we looked at a new book for the first time. This is a really brand-new book: it hasn't been published yet, won't be out officially until October 16th, but the very first bound copies have just arrived. And we can't help but have an emotional response to this book. After all, we wrote it.
Kim Writes: Today, I felt as though I wrote a song with Paul McCartney, climbed a mountain with Sir Edmond Hillary, discussed the power of the mind over the body with Rene Descartes, and wrote a speech with Martin Luther King. I danced with Fred Astaire, rode a bus with Rosa Parks, sang a song with Adele, ran a relay race with Flo Jo, and chased villains with Batman.
---In other words: I wrote a book with my hero, Kenn Kaufman.
When Kenn and I announced to my family that we were going to write a book together, they were genuinely happy for me. But to be honest, I'm not sure they could fully grasp what it meant for me to write a book with my Kenn. They are honest, hard-working people, and while we differ on some views of the world, we share a deep and abiding love for each other that can conquer any social or political obstacle. After our book announcement, my youngest brother Aaron drew my name in the family's Christmas gift exchange. The gift he chose for me was a lovely shadow box. With the gift was a hand-written card that I will treasure for the rest of my life. In the card, Aaron said he thought this box would be a nice way to display my first published book. And then, my little brother: the hardworking, tough as nails construction worker and football coach, ---said he was proud of me. He will never know what that meant to me.
So, what do ya think, Aaron?
Looks pretty great in there, doesn't it?!?!
Even our cat Kirby can't wait to read the book!
Kenn and I had so much fun working on this book. We spent many glorious hours exploring New England looking for anything that might catch the average nature enthusiast's eye. We ate A LOT of clam chowder (my mouth is watering just thinking about it), played in tidal pools like a couple of kids, and searched and searched and searched for the mythical moose. (Which I have STILL yet to see!). Many of the people that helped us on it are near and dear to our hearts, making the book all that much more special. Many of my team at Black Swamp Bird Observatory participated in one way or another, and we were thrilled to work with Ken Keffer, Eric Eaton, and Eric Snyder. Ken wrote the habitat section, Eric E. wrote the insect section, and Eric S. wrote the geology section - and they are wonderfully written.
Many aspects of natural history are illustrated for the first time in any publication using Kenn's method of digitally enhancing photos and trimming them from their backgrounds, creating digital illustrations. I am particularly happy with the way the wildflower and tree sections look using this method.
And, of course, the book includes some of my husband's wit. For instance, in the fish section, the text for Black Crappie reads, "A popular fish, despite what its name might suggest to the uninitiated (it's pronounced like croppy, not crappy!).
Right now, the book feels more like a dream than reality. I have held it in my hands over and over, poring over the pages and trying to wrap my head around the idea that I can lay partial claim to it. I don't know if I will ever be able to express to Kenn how much it means that he would share this book with me. He has worked nearly all of his adult life on writing books and articles that will encourage more people to fall in love with nature. In essence, he is sharing his entire world with me, now, and I am supremely humbled at his faith in me.
The book isn't available just yet; the official release date is October 16th. I hope readers will find this book fun, engaging, and ultimately very useful in the field. I know I can't wait to get back to New England and give it a good field test! And who knows, maybe it will help me find a moose!