Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birdwatching saves lives

In the late 19th Century, most bird watching was done through the sights of a gun. Such was the case on a snowy winter’s day in Vermont’s north woods. Two young men were in the pursuit of a boreal quarry and instead stumbled upon something that would one day save a life.

The bespectacled of the two young men was unyieldingly energetic in his goal to add Red Crossbills to his museum collection. His diligence would pay off. Through the falling snow he would spot- and shoot two of the crimson crossbills.

But before he could pick up the specimens, a snow covered log would trip him up and the fall would break his glasses. His temporary shortsightedness turned to great foresight, and he vowed on that day to always carry spare lenses.

Decades later, an assassin’s bullet to his presidential predecessor would propel an ever energized Theodore Roosevelt to the highest office in America for eight years. After a four year hiatus from the political scene, he choose to run again in 1912, putting him in front of the American people and in front of an assassin’s .38 caliber revolver. Roosevelt survived the shooting. As was his habit, he carried in his vest pocket a metal case for his spare glasses that saved his life.

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