A love of Birds
If someone had told me a decade ago I would be into birds so much so that I would illustrate a bird book aimed at children, I would question them on every level. I was not into birds, in fact when a friend was dating a guy whose favourite pass time was bird watching on the weekends, I thought it something I would never take pleasure from. I certainly would not be up at 4 am blogging about it!
As we went on our travels and connected more with nature as we went on our hikes, I started to appreciate the beauty of birds. For someone who is from Tanzania, the land of Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti and Ngorongoro crater, bigger creatures were more an attraction. But seeing a hornbill in Borneo and blue footed boobies and albatroses in the Galapogas, introduced a love of birds to me.
So when, after our travels we arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the island of Hispaniola being known for over 35 endemic species, I was in bird heaven so to speak. Then meeting Kate Wallace through the International Womens Community started the long first project of becoming a published Illustrator.
Kate has come to be known as Kate Tody, after the Broad Billed Tody that Kate was so drawn too, its emerald green majestic feathers that catch the eye. Kate is in her 80s, and you would not guess unless she told you. We met at one of the painting classes that I used to teach as part of the International Womens Group and created a shared project. Kate knows what she wants, at first I was painting first that appeared to be pregnant…and she did not hesitate to tell me that the dimensions where off! I suppose it is because the initial drawings for this project where done in the three years that I was pregnant with my first and second child.
She still conducts bird tours for people travelling from all over the world. Well that is until a few weeks ago. Kate’s work is about taking people to her camp up in ‘el campo’ the countryside to birdwatch, and that is her livelihood and passion combined and now it is on hold. The world has shut down. It took us so long to come to the final stages of this project, and now its is finally on Amazon, able to reach people in every corner of the world with just a click of the button. When we first published this book, Kate was doing the rounds selling it to people in Santo Domingo. A text from her tonight read..’ Completely paralysed by the quarantine, unable to do anything otherwise fine. This was the week I was going to look for vendors!’ Thankfully we can now still sell it, Amazon has just doubled the number of people it has hired and still delivering.
As people scramble to protect themselves and others they must also find a means to continue earning, Zumba instructors doing live online classes, Artists painting online and working on videos to continue bringing the creative process to your screens, we as a society are adapting. We are trying to make the most of it by carrying on online.
Of course not everyone has the luxury, medical workers are on the front line, grocery suppliers are desperately working to meet the demands of those at home. But that is just in more organised societies. What about those who live in slums, who have barely had access to clean water and basic necessities in the first place, how are they going to adapt? Whose government is not going to offer a bail out? There is a ripple effect and ramifications of this pandemic that we are yet to see. However, the one thing that Covid 19 does is it unites us. It is everywhere. Are we going to adapt and stay this way? Or do we need each other too much? Hopefully we all have a short memory and go back to social contact after this passes, because this too shall pass.
For now, Kate and I hope that our book, that has taken a little over 4 years from inception to publication will provide you a tour of the Dominican Republic and the birds that inhabit the six main habitats in the country, the beach, mountain, city, lagoon, botanical garden and a migration map. Birds are really everywhere there.
It is available on Amazon on the link below, and the Spanish version as translated by Florencia Ferrario soon to appear.
To see what the book looks like, please go to my youtube page, where my wonderful neighbour Diya Lim, a published Author, bought the first copy from Amazon, is paging through the book.
You can get purchase our book at the link below: