Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Noticing Nature

A while back I wrote about a quiz I saw -- it might have been in Adbusters -- where they showed you silhouettes of corporate logos (like the Disney ears, the CBS eye, etc.) to see if you could identify them. I'm sure I would have got the majority right, along with most Americans. Then they showed you a bunch of leaf shapes, and I realized with consternation that about the only ones I could identify for sure would be a maple, and maybe an oak. That's pathetic. I like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person, and I like nature more than most ... how could I be so incredibly ignorant?

In the movie "The Color Purple" one line stood out for me: "I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it." Now, I don't know if it pisses Him off, because if so He'd be upset most of the time, I should think, but I imagine it does disappoint Him. After all, purple is fairly rare in nature, and if you don't notice it you're not paying much attention. And if you're not paying attention, you're squandering your time on this planet, when you're supposed to be learning something, or at least that's the way I've always seen it. So why is it that I know more about logos that are trying to sell me stuff than something that God made? That's like someone that knows more about cheap comic book characters than they know about the classics ... Garbage In, Garbage Out.

So yesterday I made it a point to look up a leaf of a brilliant red tree that had been troubling me ... I was sure it was a maple, but the leaf didn't look *exactly* like the Canadian flag, so I checked this website and saw that indeed, my tree was a *red* maple, and the Canadian flag leaf is from a *sugar* maple. I'm ashamed to admit I didn't know there was a difference, but on the upside, I've decided this fall to look up a tree a day. This is actually kind of fun -- if you see a leaf on the ground and wonder what kind of tree it's from, put it in your pocket and when you have time, go look it up! I did this occasionally with wild flowers this summer, and it's amazing how much more you notice things once you know their names. Now if there's some sort of big disaster or I get lost out in the woods somewhere, I'll know what kind of weeds I can use for a salad ... :)

In an important message from the Hopi Elders, they warn that in these precarious times there are things to be considered:
"Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in the right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden." I think that's an excellent idea.

Recommended web site: Radical Botany

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