A Knapsack Full of Paints by BJ

by BJ
(Kansas City, Missouri )

This is one of my children's history stories about John James Audubon… called him 'bird man'. It was a story I wrote for my creative writing class… before I had my children's history book published in 2008, called "An Imaginary Journey of BJ and Dobbin".

A Knapsack Full of Paints

BJ and Dobbin, her pony, were out for the day exploring when suddenly she came upon a flock of many kinds of birds, flying in the sky. A man with a knapsack, notebook, and a dog was standing near the swollen Mississippi River bottomlands. He opened his knapsack and then took out many colors of paints.

“ Excuse me, my name is BJ and this is my pony Dobbin. What are you doing with all those paints way out here in the bottomlands? “

“ Hello BJ, my name is John James Audubon. I am an artist and have come here to paint at this location, because there are many kinds of birds here.”

“ Do you only paint birds?” asked BJ.

“ Yes, I paint many kinds on my canvas.”

“ Where are you from and do you travel far to paint?”

“ I now live in Princeton, Indiana, but before that I lived in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. I had a shop there where I sold Sunday clothes to many customers. Yes, I travel far in my journeys. I cover thousands of miles on many trips in the Ohio and Mississippi regions. I now have settled in Princeton, Indiana.”

“ Do you always travel alone?”

“ Oh yes, because this would not be an interesting journey for others. I leave my wife with friends while I travel to paint birds in the wilderness. I watch their feeding habits and also how they interact with other birds.”

“ What will you do with all those paintings? I’m sure you have many.”

“ Yes, I have quite a collection! I sometimes travel to give exhibitions of my work. I hope to one day have enough for a book. It will be in many parts and will be called The Wild Birds of America. “

“ Don’t you get lonely being by yourself? “

“ Yes, I do BJ. My friend Abraham Lincoln sometimes walks with me. Many times I float the rivers. He and I both love people and birds. “

“ What kinds of birds are you looking for this time? “

“ I paint whatever I may see. On my last trip I painted wild pigeons, “ said Mr. Audubon.

“ I notice you have a notebook. What do you write in it? “

“ I make notes of everything I see and paint. I recently wrote a paper that I read before the Natural History Society of London on habits of the wild pigeon. “

“ Do you think everyone likes what you write and speak about? “

“ No BJ, not everyone. Some doubted that I love pigeons like I said I did.”

“ What did you say to convince them? “

“ I’m not sure I could convince people about that. I said that the pigeons were God’s creation, too and that His love is modified by different degrees of intelligence in different beings and creatures. “

“ That’s a beautiful way to put it. If they don’t believe after explaining it that way, then they will never be convinced. But, I just know that someday you will get your bird book published. “

“ I will keep painting and traveling until I have enough paintings of different species, to get it published. “

“ We must be going now Mr. Audubon, I have enjoyed meeting you and learning of your craft. I wish you lots of luck, “ said BJ, as she looked at Dobbin playing with Mr. Audubon’s dog.

“ It’s been a pleasure having someone to visit with out here in these bottomlands, BJ. I hope you will catch up with me again someday. “

“ Good-bye, I hope someday to see your book of birds published,” yelled BJ, as Dobbin trotted off with her.

Mr. Audubon stood up and waved his hat, as if well pleased that he had had a visitor.

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