The Old Man and the See

I have noticed several times while reading the works of Euell Gibbons, that when he starts hunting for a particular plant, he often has to sit down and study the plant in order to be able to recognize it from its surroundings.  This prompted me to think, “What’s wrong, with you, Old Man?  You hunt this stuff all the time.  Why don’t you already know how to tell this plant from the other plants it grows with?”

Then, the other day, while my son and I were out picking dandelion flowers in the rain to put on a pizza, I realized I was having a hard time finding any in my yard.  I knew there were tons of them, but I couldn’t find them.  “Jeez,” I thought, “Have I become the Old Man, myself?”

The dark sky from the rain had cause the flowers to close up, making them blend in more with the rest of the yard.  When I found a few, I hunkered down to have a look, and I realized what Gibbons had been about.  “I get it, Euell,” I thought.  “Environments change.  Plants change.  Right now, these guys are reacting to the dark sky, so I need to react to them.”

I figured out how to sense the shape of the sepals that close up around the flowerhead.  I also noticed that the flowers weren’t closed all the way, so if I caught the plant from just the right angle, I could see the little bit of yellow peeking out.  So I started checking every spot from different directions, and before I knew it, I had a handful of blossoms.

The moral of the story?  Don’t dismiss your elders off-hand.  Also, look at things from different perspectives–especially your own dismissiveness.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by andrea on 05/07/2007 at 9:54 am

    Alright, so I just want to say something to prevent the impression that when you stopped by the bike shop I was all “oh yes rewilding yes yes very interesting.” I may have come across as indifferent since you asked about interest in survivalism, not knowledge: I have an overwhelming amount of the former and very little of the latter. Right now my studies are still focusing on how civilization came to be and how it reached this point and who the hell thought this was a good idea. If I had my way, civilization would crash today — or hell, yesterday — but I’d be one of the casualties. Wouldn’t know how to eat, no less craft a bamboo bike. Heh. Well. There is probably time to learn.

    This is turning into a big rant. Good to meet you, though. My internet access is limited to a borrowed laptop with flaky “borrowed” wireless these days, but I’ll do my ignorant damndest to help with the wiki.


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