I don’t know how or why it started…
Maybe from the walks in the woods with my maternal grandfather… he would point out the different trees and flowers to us grandkids, telling us their names. Hemlock, Cedar, Trillium, Vanilla Leaf.
He’d also point out other things, too… like “widow makers“: the trees almost fallen over, kept upright by the support of their neighbors.
My paternal grandfather liked to hunt for edible mushrooms.
My dad and I still like to identify the many birds that visit my parents’ bird feeders (when the gray squirrels aren’t hogging them).
Then there were the various biology projects in high school: we had to collect and identify plants, fungi, and insects at different points throughout the year.
Somewhere along the way I developed a love of knowing what I’m looking at, whether it’s a tree, a bird, or a mountain peak… and of knowing how they function.
Why is that mountain shaped the way it is?
Why do some plants grow better in one area but not another?
Are they native? Why or how were they transplanted here?
I like to think that I got that trait from my grandfathers.
I saved some field guides from my parents’ house that used to belong to my paternal grandfather… you saw one of the bird field guides from my watercolor project, but I also saved a fungi field guide and a fish of the Pacific Northwest field guide.
Browsing through the field guides reminds me of both grandfathers.
I enjoy learning about the natural world, but even more than that I love the subtle reminder of two of the men that I wish I could have known as an adult.