Snowpocalypse Reading List

Snowpocalypse. Oh thank goodness, the first two weeks of February are finally behind us. Yes, it actually happened. No, I didn’t enjoy it.* I mean, who would enjoy record-breaking snowfall in an area of the country not used to having snow accumulation at all, let alone several snowfalls piling up over such a short time?

*This is a lie. I completely enjoyed it to the very depths of my Midwestern soul! I didn’t enjoy having to call off work for the first two days since I couldn’t get out of my driveway, however. I mean, what self-respecting snow driver from Southern Illinois would I be if my pride didn’t hurt quite a bit admitting defeat like that?

The silver lining was the unexpected reading time that suddenly stretched out before me. Even though I had a ton of novels I picked up from a recent library conference, my mind was drawn to a few nonfiction books I had checked out from the library. These books became my Snowpocalypse reading list.

Hummingbirds: A Life-Size Guide to Every Species
When I woke up that first Monday morning to see the snow, I started freaking out about the Anna’s hummingbirds who hang out in my yard. Thank goodness I had spring on my mind the previous week and had checked out this comprehensive book about hummingbirds. What began as a curiosity to discover whether I could attract multiple species to my yard became a quest to keep my Anna’s alive. Page 335 declares this species status to be of least concern, but I knew locally our birds were in trouble. I practically memorized the section on feeding and trooped out back to wipe the snow off the one hanging feeder, also throwing seed down on clear patches for the seed-loving birds. Then I set to work making fresh nectar, filling two feeders, and rotating them out every few hours so the nectar wouldn’t freeze. One of my regular hummers buzzed me the first few times I did this, either out of appreciation or anger I couldn’t tell. But I did feel a little like Snow White the way the birds kept popping up in my yard so I choose to believe it was total appreciation.

Instant Pot Fast & Easy written by Urvashi Pitre with photographs by Ghazalle Badiozamani
There’s nothing quite like cold, dreary days to make me want something hot and filling to eat. Don’t worry–I’m not a French toaster. That’s something we Midwesterners call folks who stock up on milk, eggs, and bread anytime a snowflake appears in the forecast. But I did find myself with extra time and an extra empty belly from all the work I was doing in the yard for the birds. Enter food blogger and cookbook author Urvashi Pitre, whose blending of different cuisines was just what I needed. My favorite recipe I made was the deceptively simply titled Garlic Chicken. The mustard-based marinade and extra garlic in this recipe made my mouth water and my house smell amazing. This book is perfect for those times you can’t decide what type of food you’re craving. There is such a variety of recipes I’m sure you can find something for everyone.

No Hard Feelings: The Secret Power of Embracing Emotions at Work by Liz Fosslien & Mollie West Duffy
Me: Why do you want this job?
Interviewee: I love reading and I would love to read all day like you do.
…crickets…
This was an actual conversation I had with someone I was interviewing for a job working the checkout desk at a small but very busy library. The myth of the aloof reader perpetuates library work, but the reality is that all day every day we library workers are moving from one task to the next, mostly interacting directly with real people. Customers, coworkers, and bosses alike–no one truly works alone. Good communication skills are the best tools to have in your tool belt, both at work and in your personal life. But the one thing most books about communication skip over are the emotions that each of us is walking around with all the time and how those can vary widely from person to person, hour to hour. That’s why when books like No Hard Feelings hit my radar I drop everything to read it cover-to-cover. With accessible language and helpful–and often humorous–illustrations, the authors break down the best ways to deal with both your emotions and those that surround you. Spoiler: you can’t make emotions go away or pretend they don’t exist, so don’t try. I was able to immediately try out some of the techniques at home, when the cabin fever hit my husband and me and our emotions were getting real. See? It’s not just another business book. The information can be applied to your whole life.

I was lucky to have entered the Snowpocalypse with a full slate of reading material whose information could immediately be used in activities to help keep animals alive and keep boredom at bay. Here are some of the ways I used what I learned. And while I can still hear the stacks of unread novels crying out to me, I know I did the right thing in reading nonfiction while trapped inside my house.

Did You Know? (Migration Edition)

That Anna’s hummingbirds don’t migrate?

hummingbirdsacelebration

I found this information on page 12 of the book Hummingbirds: A Celebration of Nature’s Most Dazzling Creatures by Ben Sonder, where he writes about them being permanent residents of the Pacific Coast and southern Arizona. The Costa’s hummingbird of southern California and Arizona stay year round in their habitats as well. This book has a couple of great pictures of baby hummingbirds in the nest as well. I didn’t realize that they have such little beaks when they hatch, and are almost full size at about 3 weeks!

howtoattracthummingbirdsSo, since they are here year round, you are going to want to leave your hummingbird feeders out during the winter time. I have two sets that I can swap out as they freeze. The best recipe for homemade syrup is 1 cup sugar to 4 cups water. You don’t want to add more sugar than that as it makes them thirsty, and could possibly lead to liver damage. How to Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies by John V. Dennis tells all about designing and maintaining a butterfly/hummingbird garden, with an extensive list of beneficial plants to use, as well as a gallery of hummingbirds and butterflies for easy recognition.

animalmigrationMany birds travel thousands of miles during their migrations. Boy, would my wings be tired! They tend to remember and stop at the same places year after year to feed and rest. Some birds travel hundreds of miles over water during their migrations, which they must do non-stop as there is nowhere for them to rest along the way. Atlas of Bird Migration edited by Jonathan Elphick and Animal Migration: Remarkable Journeys in the Wild by Ben Hoare show the migration routes and distances of many species of birds and other animals.

thejourneyMany mammals migrate too, but none so far as the gray whale. They travel 6,000 miles from the Arctic sea, before they become ice filled, to the warmer waters of California and Mexico where they give birth. They generally won’t eat much for 8 months, until they return to the Arctic. Cynthia Rylant’s The Journey: Stories of Migration is a very informative children’s book with nice artwork explaining the why’s and where’s of the migration of whales, butterflies, caribou, locusts, terns and silver eels.

destinationamericaWhen people “migrate” from colder areas to warmer areas during the winter we call them  snow birds, but when they come from one country to another, we call it immigration instead of migration. Destination America by Chuck Wills talks about people from all corners of the globe, and tells us why they immigrated to the United States, how they did it, and what they did once they were in America. I found this book fascinating and enjoyed looking at all the old photographs in it.

Did you know?

A bumblebee flaps its wings 150 times per second?

I found this information in the book Why Don’t Jumbo Jets Flap Their Wings? by David E. Alexander. This excellent book provides clear explanations of all aspects of flight — be it birds, planes or insects!

Find more information, stunning photographs and an A to Z directory of hummingbirds in Hummingbirds by Ben Sonder.

To learn more about how birds fly check out How Do Birds Fly? by Melissa Stewart. There are some interesting pictures of birds’ lightweight bones and feathers that enable flight.

Birds: Nature’s magnificent flying machines by Caroline Arnold shows some excellent pictures of how wings flap, explains the aerodynamics of bird flight, and shows some pictures of other flying animals such as squirrels, snakes, fish, bats and frogs!

Linda