It is one of those days here in northern Georgia when you love to be inside. It has been raining since before sunup and I don’t know if it has stopped all day. I can hear the rain on the roof…and that is a sound that I love. I love to look out the window on such a day and see the weather and color. On a day like this, the rain has washed all the leaves clean of whatever dust has settled on the, it darkens the colors of the bark making for greater contrasts. The cloud cover keeps everything from being too bright.
My wife stuck her head out the door briefly on a task and she asked if I had my camera. Behind where we live, well, all around us, there are trees and bushes. Though most of the leaves have fallen now, there is a tree behind us that still have most of its leaves and color. I don’t know what kind of tree it is (I am fairly certain, though, that it is not a dandelion!), but it is one of my favorite kinds of trees. And my wife was right: in the rain, there was beauty.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1959, Robert Stroud, the famous “Birdman of Alcatraz,” was released from solitary confinement for the first time in 43 years. Stroud gained widespread fame and attention when author Thomas Gaddis wrote a biography that trumpeted Stroud’s ornithological expertise.
Stroud was first sent to prison in 1909 after he killed a bartender in a brawl. He had nearly completed his sentence at Leavenworth Federal Prison in Kansas when he stabbed a guard to death in 1916. Though he claimed to have acted in self-defense, he was convicted and sentenced to hang. A handwritten plea by Stroud’s mother to President Woodrow Wilson earned Stroud a commuted sentence of life in permanent solitary confinement.
For the next 15 years, Stroud lived among the canaries that were brought to him by visitors, and became an expert in birds and ornithological diseases. But after being ordered to give up his birds in 1931, he redirected his energies to writing about them and published his first book on ornithology two years later. When the publisher failed to pay Stroud royalties because he was barred from filing suit, Stroud took out advertisements complaining about the situation. Prison officials retaliated by sending him to Alcatraz, the federal prison with the worst conditions.
In 1943, Stroud’s Digest of the Diseases of Birds, a 500-page text that included his own illustrations, was published to general acclaim. In spite of his success, Stroud was depressed over the isolation he felt at Alcatraz, and he attempted suicide several times. The legendary “Birdman of Alcatraz” died in a Missouri prison in 1963 at the age of 73.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: One in five adults admitted to urinating in swimming pools, which means 20% of adults in swimming pools have urinated in it. Red eyes associated with swimming are not caused by chlorine. They are caused by chloramine, a chemical that is created when urine combines with the chlorine already in the pool. In fact, the more strong smelling a pool is, the more contaminated it is.