Brian Doyle, who died on May 27, 2017, considers the capacity of the heart—including his own. Rest in peace.
Basements can hold mysterious treasures: long-lost letters, old photo albums, forgotten mementos. For writer Erik Anderson, the basement of a Lancaster, Pennsylvania museum sparked a different mystery altogether. What was the body of a 19th century black-tailed trainbearer, a bird native to South America, doing among the exhibits? As Anderson searches through library archives to find an answer, his detective work turns into a meditation on the delicate balance between protecting nature and destroying it. “Why attempt to preserve something as fleeting as a bird’s life? Is this curiosity, or are we holding on too tight?” he writes in a 2016 essay for the Scholar. The more he searches, the more he comes to understand the impulse to preserve beauty where we find it. After all, “Humans may be all brain, but birds are all heart.”