Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Lack of Education

I'm a nerd, plain and simple. I like facts of all sorts and kinds. Facts about maps, facts about the distance between stars, facts about Peruvian llamas, facts about farm policy. As a child I read fact books before I drifted off to sleep. I might not have been the fastest kid or the cutest, but I did know lots of things about lots of stuff.

Unfortunately, as I've aged I've come to see a lacking in my education. I could talk to you for hours about the formation of mountains and the water cycle and the dominance of ferns during the age of dinosaurs. However, during a walk in the woods I wouldn't be able to tell an elm from an ash. The difference between a hydrangea from and a rhodendrum is greek to me. Socrates was done in by hemlock, but I couldn't tell you if I was eating a hemlock leaf right now.

This new awareness comes from my reading of Roger Deakin's Wildwood. In this fantastic book he traces his journey through his local (and far off) wood. And with me he is leading a blind man.


  1. A few years that same lack of knowledge about the basic outdoor world struck me pretty hard. I took a walk nearly everyday down by a river and yet knew nothing about the trees or plants or animals or fish that were all about. I got pretty lucky in that there's a naturalist program in my county and I joined up. Maybe you have one out where you are?
    I have to say, tree identification is still tough! Not for the faint hearted, that. But I'm so much more aware of everything around me and collecting naturalist knowledge is such a healing, joy filled thing. Of course, there's not always joy; there's a great deal of heartbreak too- the vanishing of species and what it means for now and the future. But of course, this can only spur one on to learn more and to tell others.
    The everyday world is such a miraculous gift each day and everyday. I think learning about it just pulls one down into that gift deeper and deeper.

  2. Yay! You're reading it. I believe the trees begin to look different and stand out more when you can distinguish between them and call each of them by their proper name. I'm glad you're enjoying the book. It's one of Steven's favorites.

  3. I agree. I gotta look up the naturalist program. We don't quite have the diversity of trees out here in the Black Hills, but that will make the identification much easier.

    The book is great going to bed book. Thanks for the recommendation.

  4. This is something I've been looking for. Thanks for writing about this.