All of us who are fascinated by nature have someone in our past who instilled and fostered that enthusiasm. For me, it was Gilbert Siegel, my maternal grandfather. Always introducing me to the plants and animals in his suburban, Cincinnati yard, he had a special fondness for birds and squirrels, some of which fed directly from his hand. On one occasion, he took me to visit the farm of a friend and we toured the property on a tractor; for the first time in my life, I was immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of a rural landscape.
Though he died when I was twelve, I still think of him often and have long recognized the major influence that he had on my life. So today, on this annual Day of Thanksgiving, I want to publicly thank my grandfather for his love, his time and his inspiration. Thanks, Gramps!