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This past weekend, I had the privilege of interviewing Patrick Dean in front of an audience at Thank You Books about his new book Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and his Adventures in a New World.

Despite being the first earned weekend after the first full week of school—also known as the "leave me the hell alone while I sleep the weekend away" solo slumber party—I agreed to the interview.

I'm glad that I did.

The event was delightful. Was it, as the Royal Society had called Catesby's Natural History, both "curious and magnificent?" Maybe not, but it was intimate and inspiring, a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Thank You Books has a charming and comfortable children's area that served as our interview space. Patrick was generous with his time and expertise, and he captivated the audience with his stories about Catesby, one of the forgotten predecessors to Audubon. As for the audience, My family was there, and yes, Laurel and Ella interrupted the interview, but only in adorable ways. Other attendees included horticulturalists, history buffs, Catesby fans, and even a Catesby descendant was in the audience!

Roger Catesby Jones, IV, presented Patrick Dean with an illustration of Alabama's state bird, the Yellowhammer (colaptes aurutus). So, it wasn't THE Catesby's original work, but at least it's A Catesby's original.


In praise for Patrick Dean's previous book, A Window to Heaven, one reviewer noted, "No matter how many times the Denali story gets told, it never gets old. The trick is to make it new. Outdoors writer Patrick Dean has done just, casting the climb in new light. The story reverberates today." Dean's done it again with his newest work, Nature's Messenger: Mark Catesby and His Adventures in a new world.

He took a 300-year-old story of an overlooked and overshadowed naturalist, considered it through the lens of today, with all that we know, and told the story anew. Whether it's the addition of previously unpublished information, the added attention to the enslaved boy Catesby may have purchased, or Dean's stylistic blend of detailed descriptions and relevant context, Nature's Messenger is beautifully written, bold in its undertaking and brilliant in its execution; it begs to be read—it's an important contribution to our nation's collective conversations around race, our history, and how much of our past are we willing to admit is tied to the slave trade. At times both heartbreaking and inspiring, fascinating and frightening, Dean's chronicle of Catesby's trip to the Carolinas during the Age of Reason—an age when empiricism replaced providence and readily-available knowledge and news enlightened the masses—is a must-read for fans of early American history, nature, environmentalism, ecology, writing, history, and much more. Pick up a copy of Dean's Nature's Messenger and enter a world of botany, pirates, slaves traders, sugar cane, and southern magnolias.

If you haven't read Nature's Messenger, or Dean's other book A Window To Heaven, do yourself a favor and pick it up—it'll inspire an urgent need for adventure. Trust me, it won't be long until you find yourself paddling the banks of the Cahaba to study the way Mountain Laurel clusters, setting out for the Appalachian Trail, or snagging a few mason jars because you now fancy yourself a weekend lepidopterist.

Last July, I gave a talk at History Camp America entitled, "Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern: The Headquarters of the Revolution." Because it was a private event, the recorded talks were accessible only to the event's ticket holders for one year. Well, it's been one year, and the talks are available!


In a letter to Thomas Jefferson in 1815, John Adams wrote, “The Revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected, from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington.”

Long before the famed “shot heard round the world,” a revolution was taking place in the hearts and minds of the colonists as they wrestled with their place in the British empire.

At the center of it all? Boston, the “Cradle of Liberty.”

And tucked away in the North End of that peninsular city, right on the edge of Mill Pond, stood a two-story Georgian with a metal dragon hung above the door: the Green Dragon Tavern. Former Secretary of State Daniel Webster claimed the Green Dragon Tavern was the “Headquarters of the Revolution.”

How did a local bar with very little to do with the colonies’ efforts during wartime earn such an esteemed title?

Let’s find out…

Fraternity, fellowship, conspiracy, clubs, and caucuses—we’ll explore the Green Dragon Tavern’s role in what Adams considered the real revolution.

TITLE: Receiver of Memory

REPORTS TO: The Mountain Grove Committee of Elders


  • Intelligence, Integrity, Courage, and Wisdom

  • The Capacity to See Beyond

  • The successful completion of the Giver's Receiver of Memory training

  • The ability to withstand the weight of our collective pain and suffering


  • Take on the burden of knowledge so that we no longer have to bear it

  • Report to the Annex every day

  • Use the wisdom you’ve gained from our memories to counsel and advise the Committee of Elders

  • Withhold all information about your work from everyone, including your family

  • Suffer in silence and isolation

  • Become the Giver someday

  • Dream-telling, medication, and release are prohibited

  • Do not fail, as she did…


  • The status as “most important member” of the Committee of Elders

  • You will receive your own dwelling, one that is different from those of most family units

  • You are permitted to lie

  • You are permitted to ask any question of any citizen, and you will receive answers

  • Exemption from rules governing rudeness

  • You have access to everything, including books

TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT: 365 days annually, 24 hours a day

EVALUATION: As an employee of Mountain Grove, performance will be evaluated in accordance with the Committee of Elders’ policies on evaluation of professional personnel. As the Receiver of Memory, performance will be based on whether the community feels any pain or not.

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