Place and Name

02006-09-15 | Environment, Internet, Musings, Nature, World | 3 comments

On 8/22/06, DK wrote:
On your recommendation I bought The Practice of the Wild. I am taking my time reading it; reading each section of a chapter 3 times & then rereading the whole chapter because there is so much there to absorb. You had an entry in your diary in which you mentioned learning more about the place where you live & I didn’t think a lot of it until I started reading the book. I have lived in southeastern Massachusetts for 41 of my 44 years but now I want to know more about my place: what’s the difference between the oak with pointy leaves & the oak with rounded leaves, the white pine vs the “scrub” pine, etc. The list goes on. I’ll be buying a copy of the National Audubon Society’s guide to New England. I really do believe it will help make me more complete.

Thank you very much for your note. It is time I learn the names of all the rivers and mountains, of the plants and animals in the biosphere around me, and that I become intimate with the landscape by walking in it… and then we can teach our children.

I have been thinking a lot about this earlier post of mine, specifically the line It is obvious: the subjects we talk the most about must be the most important! That also goes for naming, that is, those items we can name must be more important. Well, when asked by a child to name things, I don’t do so well with nature – hence that is an area I must improve. I grew up in a city, and remember taking walks on Sunday mornings with my dad when I was a toddler. By the time I was four I new all of the car brands and could tell you whether they had a boxer engine or a wankel engine or an inline four etc.

I was reading Robert Fripp’s diary yesterday and at the bottom of that page a random aphorism appears – see link on my sidebar to the right. The aphorism that came up was: In naming myself, I recognize who I am. Very true. I will add to that: In naming my world, I define myself. You can never name everything, and the selection you make and maybe even more importantly the items you exclude, define who you are. And, that will certainly shape our children’s lives.


  1. dave

    I’ve always liked the aphorisms at the bottom of RF’s diary. I just clicked on it & this came up: “What we hear is the way that we hear.”

    I got a chuckle out of my wife yesterday morning while we walked our youngest son to the end of our driveway to get on the bus. There were birds fluttering around the feeder & my son commented about one them. “That’s a White Breasted Nut Hatch,” rolled right out of my mouth without much thought. I’m learning. Everyone should get a copy of “The Practice of the Wild”.

  2. marijose

    Parks with nature centers and visitor centers are a great source of information on local plants, animals and geography. Some of them have interesting educational programs for people of all ages–a fun way to spend family time.

  3. Anna

    I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world; sadly it is becoming a concrete jungle. I’ve made myself a promise that during summer I will explore on foot as many places as I can around the City, and capture as much as I can with my new camera.
    Botanical Gardens have plaques next to all the exotic plants, trees, and shrubs. As well a new wild life sanctuary is opening in a few days, which will feature over 6,000 animals living in their 9 natural habitats and ecosystems.


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