letters of e.b. white


“I’m the father of two robins,” E. B. White writes to his stepson in 1964 from his farm in Maine. The baby birds had been orphaned, “and without really thinking about what I was doing I casually dropped a couple of marinated worms into their throats as I walked by. … This did it. They took me on with open hearts and open mouths, and my schedule became extremely tight.” He has fed these robins a formula of “hamburg, chicken mash, kibbled worm and orange juice” for several days from a “yellow bamboo stick, split at one end, like a robin’s bill.” And now the birds “come streaming at me from bush and tree, trying for a landing on shoulder or cap, usually overshooting me in the fog and bringing up against a wall. This exhausts them and me.” Next, says White, he will have to “hop about on the lawn with my head cocked to one side, to show them how to get their own living.” That’s pretty good. It’s not twee or just whimsical, is it? No, it’s pretty good.

more from the NY Times here.