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Pat Conway Interview : Page 3 of 4

Poet and Photographer Pat Conway

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Q: How and when did you discover that this is what you wanted to do with your life? Have you always been interested in writing and art?

A: When I was a child, in the attic of our house, I would sit in front of an old wooden desk in a broken swivel chair and pretend that I was a writer. I pecked at an old black typewriter, long disregarded. I would have to say that is when my desire to write began. My interest in writing and art (photography) has never diminished. The following poem, written in 1968, was inspired by that memory:

A Writer

Oh, to be a writer, it must be really grand,
to sit behind an oaken desk with pen and ink in hand.
To mark upon the paper that lies upon the desk,
the memories and moments that you have loved the best.
Yes, to be a writer is what I'd like to be.
But I could write much better just sitting by a tree.
There I'd have my pen and paper perched upon my knee,
gaze into the bright blue sky, and write my reverie.

Q: What is your favorite way to relax, recharge, and revitalize your creative soul?

A: My equal love to writing is bird-watching. Escaping into the country with my binoculars is how I recharge and revitalize. I never tire of watching birds in their natural habitat. I also greatly enjoy seeing people bird-watch for the first time, spotting their first bird through binoculars. It is such a joy! They usually say, "Oh my," or " I never knew birds were so beautiful!" They're hooked after that.

Q: You recently mentioned a project that allowed you to combine your passions for writing, photography, and watching birds in their natural habitat. Can you tell us more?

A: It has been twenty-five years since the State of Pennsylvania published a breeding bird atlas, documenting every bird species that breeds in the State. Four years ago, The Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, Pennsylvania undertook the monumental task of compiling another atlas (The Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas), backed by The Carnegie Museum of Natural History, The Pennsylvania Game Commission, the U.S. Wildlife Service, Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania Society for Ornithology, Audubon Pennsylvania and the National Park Service.

I have been a member of the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, Clarion, PA, for over fifteen years and a birder most of my life. I was asked if I would like to participate in this project. I said, "Yes." This year has been my fourth as Regional Coordinator for one of the sixty regions in the State. My job is to record every breeding bird in my region, which is approximately three hundred square miles, I think. I have a wonderful group of volunteers who are helping me. We get up before the chickens and cover blocks on scheduled days, searching for birds. It's a lot of work, and fun at the same time. Our reward will be our names in the book as contributing citizen scientists. I also write articles for The Drummer, the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society's monthly newsletter.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, Pat!

Readers can contact Ms. Conway at the library, using the contact info given above, or through her personal email address: conway_67@yahoo.com.

For more information about The Second Pennsylvania Breeding Bird Atlas, or to contact the Seneca Rocks Audubon Society, please visit the following websites next time you're surfing the Net: www.pabirdatlas.org, or www.senecarocksaudubon.org. Pat has sent along a wonderful sampling of her work, including her original poetry and photographs. Enjoy!

Photo © Pat Conway

A FAMILIAR PLACE

There's a place that's so familiar
it's often in my dreams,
I travel there when cares of life
would tear me at the seams.
I wander over rolling hills
and sit in fields of clover,
watching monarchs flit and dance
and kestrels flying over.
Sometimes I pause beside the stream
and watch the crayfish scurry.
Cooling waters bathe my feet
for once I need not hurry.
Winds whisper through the swaying pines
and gently blow my hair.
This place that's so familiar
leaves my mind without a care.
Tea berries and arbutus spread
across the meadow green,
While deeper in the forest
the whitetail lie unseen.
A man and wife with silver hair
greet me at the door.
I'm totally accepted,
I could not ask for more.
This place that's so familiar
is a world set apart.
One thing that never changes,
a constant in my heart.
I'm thankful for these memories
now that I am grown,
I return there every chance I get...
to my familiar place called "home."

— Patricia Jackson Conway, 1993
For Mom and Dad

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