It was just over a year ago. We had been hiking all morning, chasing rare birds in the dusty heat of south Texas. Back at our campsite all I wanted was a cold beer. Craig, however, ducked into his tent and came out in his running clothes. Off he went for a seven-mile run. Back an hour later, fresh as a daisy. A sweaty daisy. But after all, the Boston Marathon was just weeks away.
Craig flowed through life with natural grace, fluid as his gait when running down the trail. He showed us that nature's beauty is everywhere, starting and ending in our own backyards.
I always remember Craig when I hear a bird call that I can't identify. He had an amazing ear. One note usually was all it took. "There," he would point with the alertness of a bird dog. "Northern beardless-tyrannulet." See little brown blob high in yonder tree. Birds, wildflowers, bugs, mushrooms, you name it. Or, rather, Craig would name it. And it didn't seem to matter where you were: the Eastern Shore, Maine, Florida, Yellowstone, Texas, California. He seemed to know everything about nature everywhere.
Craig was the best naturalist and teacher I've ever known. I tended to mock him relentlessly. "Why Mary that's terrific," I'd say, aping him. "Why, yes I believe that is a cardinal. Why, I don't think I've ever seen a cardinal before. In this parking lot. On a Tuesday." Craig would just grin.
When I say it, it sounds condescending. Craig never was. No observation was insignificant. No question trivial or stupid.
Sometimes I think of Craig when I start to get bored. Because for Craig, boredom didn't exist; every moment had promise. He found Inca doves in the Tucson parking lot where we were getting our oil changed. While getting a flat tire fixed in Animus, New Mexico, he found a guy who took us to see scaled quail at his ranch. But most of all, he never tired of looking for grasshopper sparrows, dragonflies, and all manner of things right in his rural neighborhood. Nature's beauty is everywhere, Craig showed us.
So we remember Craig, each in our own way. And he stays with us through those memories.
Craig was my friend. I miss him dearly.
June 28, 2009