Alexandra Sargent-Colburn's first response when asked about herself was to say she was found in a rude, homemade cradle, caught in some tall weeds by the banks of the Nile. "But that's already been done," she said. ""I wouldn't have liked being named Moses, anyway. You probably get teased in school for that. I assure you, being named Alexandra got me teased in the early '70s when I started school near Philadelphia, where I was born. Nobody else was named Alexandra, so I stood out from the very beginning."
Starting at a young age, Sargent-Colburn learned important lessons from her parents. "I remember being very small and having my father explain seriously that it was doubly wrong to be mean to an animal, it was much worse than being mean to a person because an animal didn't understand what was going on and couldn't properly defend itself. I took that to heart. As a child we always had a cat. I still remember them all. And while I wasn't always perfectly respectful to them I didn't hurt them, and I looked askance at people who did hurt animals. I never understood why someone would do that, what the appeal was."
When she reached college age, her family had moved to Princeton, Massachusetts. Sargent-Colburn remembers the college years as being lonely in a way, because she said she lived in a series of little apartments and usually no pets were allowed. "I started at UMASS Boston and transferred to UMASS Amherst. My interest was in Archaeology. I remember when I started college that a full-time archaeologist earned an average of $19,000 per year. By the time I graduated that had dropped."
"There I was with a fresh Anthropology degree, and a minor in Geology," she said. "I knew a lot about stones and bones and rocks and fossils and prehistory. After watching a college tenure fight in all of its bloody glory – throw him to the lions! -- I knew that I didn't want to teach at the college level. I knew that I did want to travel, so I spent a few years in Travel and Tourism. That was interesting, but exhausting. One year I spent 100 days on the road, doing guided historical tours of New England, Eastern Canada, Washington D.C. and the Pennsylvania Dutch country. I went back to school for a High School teaching degree."
"I finally settled down with a young man from the Massachusetts town next to mine. He and I both had no interest in city life, we moved to my family farm in Connecticut. Like me, he had trouble resisting a cute little furry face. One day there was a sign tacked up on the Post Office door asking for a home for two ferrets. I didn't know much about ferrets at all, neither did he. But oh, boy, did we find out! We named our first two 'No' and 'Don't,' because that's what we spent the first few weeks yelling."
Sargent-Colburn and her husband have been married for 13 years and live in Massachusetts. "[We live] at the end of a dirt road lined in mature hemlock forest and swamp. We love our swamp. We have two ferrets, a dog, a cat, a dozen chickens and some turkeys. I stay at home, now. I did teach for a while but retired young due to illness. I have plenty to keep me busy! Writing for Ferrets Magazine is a fun way to share my enthusiasm for ferrets with like-minded people."
[Editor's Note: Sadly, Alexandra Sargent-Colburn is no longer with us. She passed away on October 5, 2015.]