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Book Review for Beyond the Spring by Chandler Richmond

Updated on June 19, 2013
Beyond the Spring, first edition
Beyond the Spring, first edition | Source

There’s something to be said about those of us that have lived in Maine. It could be the cold and the fact that country folk just have to be stronger to endure more. “Beyond the Spring” by Chandler Richmond shows the strength and mettle of one such woman with her roots in Ellsworth, Maine, before it became the city that it is today. Cordelia Johnson Stanwood of Birdsacre was the daughter of a sea captain who settled in the tough Maine landscape, even harder in the 1800’s.

She was sent to school in Massachusetts at the age of 14 and lived with her aunt and uncle in a privileged setting. Hard work and that strong Maine spirit turned her into a remarkable teacher, but eventually pushing herself to the limit caused her to experience a nervous breakdown. She returned to her roots in Ellsworth at the age of 39 to again live with her parents. Once her only brother married and her parents passed on, the was the only family member living at the top of Beckwith Hill.

As a teacher, she knew that something was missing, though she enjoy teaching children immensely. Once she returned to Ellsworth, old feelings were rekindled with nature, and she realized that was how she was happiest.

She worked for nearly 50 years as Maine’s pioneer ornithologist and later photographer of nature. She survived through crafting baskets, and as a writer for a number of magazine articles, barely enough to live on. She may have grown up privileged, but once she returned home, she trudged through the woods no matter what the weather to study her birds on her 40-acre property, complete with natural spring, which is the spring included in the title of this book.

She refused to use the well water beside the house, which had no running water, instead getting this wonderful water from the spring, where she made a daily trek and observed the birds getting their water, too.

It became more and more infectious, where she was studying where the birds nested, how they gathered nesting materials, and how they lived their lives, both with and without young ones. One of the first important birders that recognized the value of her work was Frank Chapman, the author of Birds of Eastern North America. She became such an authority over the decades with drawings, photos, and field notes, she became an important naturalist that shared information with people and birding organizations all over the world. Three years after her death, she was recognized by the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife and her portrait is in the Deane collection of the Library of Congress.

Mr. Chandler Richmond wrote this book, as he believed in the value of her work. Many of her photographic plates were recovered by William Townsend, who was my biology teacher, and were returned to the house in Ellsworth. The Lady of Birdsacre made such an impact with the work in her later years, her home was placed on the historical register of Ellsworth, Maine. Thanks to Chandler Richmond and many others from Ellsworth, the house was restored to its original state, as Ms. Stanwood could not afford to keep it up on mere pittance.

The home was opened to the public on Cordelia Stanwood’s birthday, August 1 in 1960. It has a wonderful museum and tribute to her work, which much of it is housed under glass, as well as a beautiful gift shop. Every year on Cordie’s birthday, the house is opened to the public for a wonderful tour. Chandler Richmond is no longer the curator of this wonderful place, that duty has been taken over by his son, Stanley.

Birdsacre also has a lovely sanctuary for birds that cannot be released back to nature, and they also care for injured and sick birds.

How do I know so much about Birdsacre? I attended Cordelia’s posthumous birthday bash in 2005, and lived not far from there where I grew up in Steuben, ME. I never met her, as she passed the year after I was born in 1958, but I do understand her motives and work with the bird world. I have walked the trails, visited the house, and felt her presence, as so many others that visit that are so deeply connected with nature.

This book gets a thumbs up, no, TWO thumbs up, and it is definitely a must read for those people that love birds and nature. Not only is it a tribute to Cordelia Stanwood, it is a tribute for all naturalists that share with others. Bravo, Mr. Richmond, your painstaking work was not in vain, for it means so much to those of us that follow in Cordie’s footsteps years later.

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    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, Highland Terrier. I have a few more books around to keep you entertained!

    • Highland Terrier profile image

      Highland Terrier 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Another nice hub. I'd never hear about these people if not for your hub.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I will have to read about Beatrix Potter, then!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

      Hi avian, it sounds like a terrific book, I can see why she captures you, it also reminded me of Beatrix Potter, I know she is well known for her tales of Peter Rabbit etc, but she was also involved in wildlife, birds and the countryside, in fact she is the one who has put all her money into the Lake District in England, she was also around that time period too, interesting hub, I will look out for the book, thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      If you want, Jackie, I used a link on the article where you should be able to get a book. If not, try the Birdsacre website. I got mine at Birdsacre. Send me some of your pics.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      I looked at the library today for the book but they had nothing. I will find it though. Maybe look online later.

      There were two moths and two bumble bees after this HB moth and it didn't seem phased by them. I have to go back and look for it again...and maybe more I am hoping.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Johan, lots of good birds in Maine, as well as great sights and seafood. The leaf peepers come in during the fall, as the leaf colors are so spectacular.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Thanks, mhatter, it is a great book.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Jackie, the hummingbird moth is interesting. When I was back home in Maine, a hummingbird and the moth had a battle in the air. The moth won, and the hummer went elsewhere.

    • Johan Smulders profile image

      Johan Smulders 5 years ago from East London, South Africa

      Another place to visit on our next trip. Thanks!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      great review, thank you.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      This sounds like I have to read it. Wondering when I will find time but you have made it sound so good and I love that time period. You won't believe it but I shot a hummingbird moth today! I didn't even know there was such a thing! It is not the greatest with those little wings whirling but two were pretty good. Oh and I was only after flowers, lol.

      Thumbs up, I would do two, too, if I could.

    • aviannovice profile image
      Author

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Great, summerberrie. I think that you'll like them, PLUS the one that I am reading now. There will be more, of course.

    • profile image

      summerberrie 5 years ago

      aviannovice, this sounds like a book I would love to read- a teacher and an ornithologist! It must have been neat attending the her post-humus birthday bash. Thanks for sharing about Chandler Richmond. I like the other books you selected, too.