i am still processing the spectacle i participated in last night, humbly called a “plant walk”. it was the first time i felt i was in the presence of a true savant. and i don’t say that lightly, as i worked for 15 years as a research engineer in the aerospace industry with mostly PhDs–people highly passionate and devoted to their chosen industry. but last night, sam thayer demonstrated a level of combined passion and learning that exceeded anything i have experienced before. last night, after the plant walk was over, and a few of us were invited into the host’s house for a glass of wine to top off the evening, we walked under a mature butternut tree beside the entrance to the farmhouse. sam glanced up, and offhandedly, and mostly to himself, said “wow, those are unusually large catkins, and a good two weeks behind. it must be because we are in a valley” it was a mental note to himself. a further refining of his already deep botanical taxonomy of the region. it was as if a mental index card had gotten written and filed away:
valleys with temperatures measurably cooler than the surrounding areas will experience delayed, and perhaps exaggerated*, spring fruiting. (*note to self: need to verify the exaggeration of spring fluorescence in cooler valleys.)”
STILL blog has made me a pretty good amateur naturalist of my bioregion. but sam thayer was something else entirely. he claims his acquired knowledge is simply on par with that of the original indigenous peoples. i believe him. but it makes one’s heart hurt to think about. about the enormity of what was lost.
butternut catkins; menomonie, wisconsin