Author Jonathan Franzen, who has more than once been called the Great American Novelist, is an avid birdwatcher — so much so that he told National Geographic that he’s “spending the second half of my life as a bird-watcher.” Not everyone finds his embrace of the hobby so charming. Slate’s Laura Helmuth resents the fact that he’s become the public face of birding, especially because he seems to feel there’s some shame in it.
In an HBO film about birding, Franzen said of the hobby:
“I thought it was embarrassing. I still think it’s embarrassing, a little bit. You’re basically defenseless. You’ve got your binoculars up and you’re looking at something nobody else is looking at, and everybody else is looking at you and thinking, what a dweeb.”
In response, Helmuth wrote:
Jonathan Franzen, nobody is looking at you. You're in New York City. A guy in cowboy boots and underpants plays guitar for tips in Times Square, and another guy walks around town with a cat perched on his head. Carrying a pair of binoculars is not exactly letting your freak flag fly.
Whatever you think of Franzen's pastime and his attitude about birdwatching, he could easily indulge the pastime privately if he bought this four-bedroom home surrounded by trees and natural beauty -- an appealing habitat for all kinds of bird life.
The home at 1679 Slitting Mill Road is on 2.5 acres with "a stunning year-round view perfect for bird watching," says the listing. The home has numerous windows to let in plenty of light and serve as portholes to the natural world when it's too cold to go out. In warmer weather, there's an outdoor deck where neighbors are unlikely to spot dweebish binoculars.
Franzen could invite fellow birdwatching aficionados for a walk in nearby Ridley Creek State Park or the Tyler Arboretum, and then bring everyone back home for warm-up drinks at the built-in bar with its integrated beer tap. The home does need upgrades, but there's plenty of potential in this picturesque location.
THE FINE PRINT
Square feet: 2,387
Open house: Dec. 22, 1-3
1679 Slitting Mill Road
Visual Tour: 1679 Slitting Mill Road