what I see

I’m reading this wildly interesting book on Alexander Humboldt (by Andrea Wulf) who was one of the first environmentalists. I’m early in the book and, although he’s German, he’s finally gotten funding from the Spanish king to explore the New World – this is around the time of the Napoleonic wars. He is so excited to be in South America that he immediately starts collecting specimens of everything in sight. He traverses miles to reach the jungle where he continues to collect and collect.

We now know, more than a hundred years later that the abundance of flora in the jungles has yet to be fathomed. But what struck me was his excitement in looking at everything. Everything. It was all fresh and new.

And so it dawned on me: I’m in familiar territory, not the jungle. How much to I notice of the much simpler plant life that grows in my geographic area? I’m not talking about the plants that I impose on the landscape – in my garden. What about those that grow and thrive and bloom on their own?

At this time of year the meadows are teaming with life. The asters (above) are everywhere. Goldenrod. Yes, there, I can name two. But then there is this vibrant blue one – striking. And black-eyed susans – okay I know that one, too. But others that I’ve looked at like – and thought: “Oh that thing that grows beside the road”.

There is some sweet quote: “a weed is a plant in the wrong place”. But maybe, it’s the eyes and the mind that put it there, after all. Hmmmm.

So many of these blooms that are all around me, have I even seen them?