Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Sunflower Patch

Last evening I went for a peaceful walk at Pope Farm Park to decompress. Resting at one of the picnic tables overlooking a field of sunflowers, my naturalist's instincts took over as I ran through the names of all I was observing. It's what naturalists do, I suppose. But there are many ways I enjoy such scenery. In one context, it's like taking a quiz; how many things can I identify? There were the various plants, wildflowers, and trees, butterflies, bumblebees and other insects, birds by sight and song, and small mammals like ground squirrels and rabbits. How about the clouds? But there's another context in which to enjoy things: watching as if we humans hadn't yet labeled the wild and the wilderness with names we've given to them. I imagine I'm an early pioneer or explorer stumbling upon nature's bounty in this region for the first time in our history. Hey! How did that stone wall get here? Finally, as my thought experiment progresses, I'll try to ponder how such a scene would be experienced if this were my first visit to Earth, where no human conventions influence my thoughts. It's difficult to do, perhaps even impossible, but it's a mental exercise I enjoy partaking in. Lost in blissful contemplation, I was startled when a dozen Ring-necked Pheasants took wing and gliding from atop the hill into the sunflower patch below.

Link: Reviving the Lost Art of Naming the World

© 2009 Mike McDowell

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