Woman, Watching, by Merilyn Simonds
Louise de Kiriline Lawrence (1894-1992) was born into the Swedish aristocracy, joined the Red Cross in WWI, married a White Russian soldier in 1918, then, a widow, moved to rural Canada in 1927 where she was, first, a nurse (heading the team that cared for the Dionne quintuplets), then a science writer and naturalist. Making it her mission and her passion to “understand…how birds are,” and to present as closely as possible a sense of the world from their point of view rather than that of the human observer, she spent nearly 60 years compiling meticulous, daily reports on the avian life around her woodland Ontario home. These records—detailing appearance, behavior, and each species’ interactions with all facets of their environment—fed a steady stream of journal articles, both scholarly and popular, and award-winning books ranging from illustrated children’s stories to memoir, biography, and groundbreaking studies of individual bird species. Simonds, herself a versatile writer and devoted birder, has adopted her subject’s thorough and enthusiastic approach. Her beautifully written book is steeped in all of Lawrence’s writings—published and unpublished—as well as a deep familiarity with her beloved Loghouse woods.