What do gardening and audiobooks have in common? I enjoy them both and sometimes enjoy them together. I do a lot of gardening at home and at our church, which really cut into my summer reading time until I discovered audiobooks on compact discs. Not all gardening activity is conducive to listening to books. When I am measuring spaces and contemplating where to place plants, I can not concentrate on a book and listen to familiar music instead. Most of my gardening time is spent in maintenance activities that do not require much mentally of me. I can listen to many books over a spring, summer, and fall while digging beds, spreading mulch, pruning shrubs, pulling weeds, watering, deadheading, thinning perennials, and picking ripe raspberries.
It is April and soon I will be outside with the plants. I listened to about 40 audiobooks last year, more than half while gardening, and foresee nearly as many this year. I was looking over my library’s collection yesterday and saw that I have listened to most of the nonfiction and classic fiction already. I will be watching for new titles and drawing from other libraries this year. I am pretty picky about contemporary fiction, but I may try a few more titles.
Remembering last year and gardening and audiobooks, I instantly think of The Big Year by Mark Obmascik. It is 8 discs full of great story telling about three men who obsessively chased all over the country to spot birds, trying to break the national record for most birds in a year. Each planned birding expeditions to catch all the migrations, starting in south Texas in January, and went to the farthest ends of the country to increase their counts, including Alaska’s Aleutian Islands to see stray Asian birds. Learning of rare sightings through bird hotlines by telephone or on the Internet, they quickly booked flights, rented cars, and raced to see the uncounted species before they disappeared. Tensions rose whenever there was a question of following birding etiquette to help fellow birders who might be their competition. Personal relationships and bank accounts were strained. It was a fascinating book. I watered many flowers and pulled many weeds listening to The Big Year.
Obmascik. Mark. The big year: a tale of man, nature, and fowl obsession. Santa Ana, CA : Books on Tape, p2004. 8 sound discs. ISBN 0736699384 and New York : Free Press, c2004. ISBN 0743245458