I began birdwatching the winter I turned ten. The winter my brother and I both had a sickness they couldn't identify so they quarantined us (by February or March they figured out we had brucellosis) together in the house until spring. My poor mother. Bored, I would stand looking out the picture window in the dining room of our suburban ranch house for what seemed like hours. It was probably ten minutes. Eventually I began to notice the birds. My dad got me a Roger Tory Peterson guidebook which I still have and binoculars. The binoculars were a big help because although we didn't know it then, I needed glasses. When I went back to school in the spring the letters on the blackboard were a blur.