Field Notes From an Un­in­ten­tional Birder by Ju­lia Zarankin (Sept. 12) Toronto writer Ju­lia Zarankin was au­di­tion­ing hob­bies when she landed on bird­watch­ing. The last thing she ex­pected was to join the flock, but she ex­plains how, at a cross­roads in her aca­demic ca­reer and newly di­vorced, she found so­lace – and ul­ti­mately love – through her new ob­ses­sion. Her first trip out, she didn’t even have binoc­u­lars; in July, she re­viewed field glasses for Cot­tage Life magazine.

Zarankin traces her jour­ney from her birth­place in the for­mer Soviet Union – her par­ents, both con­cert pi­anists, are Rus­sian Jews – to Canada, and finds a par­al­lel be­tween her flight path and those of birds. Ul­ti­mately, she de­cides she is a mi­gra­tory species, too: she was raised in Van­cou­ver and Toronto, lived in Paris and worked as a pro­fes­sor of Rus­sian lit­er­a­ture in the U.S.

From per­sonal cri­sis to find­ing mean­ing in mid-life, Zarankin’s cur­rent as­pi­ra­tions say it all: “To sport the hairdo of a cedar waxwing, ac­quire the wardrobe of a North­ern flicker and de­velop the con­fi­dence of a Ross’s goose.” —Kim Honey

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