Saturday, May 9, 2015

Stories and Species

It came up about quite naturally the other evening to be enjoying a lovely crepuscular meeting at the puddle halfway between Kristen's and my house, discussing story telling and biodiversity as the last daylight faded and lightning bugs began to flash in the forest. The meeting was initiated as a simple passing of 2 eggs from one neighbor to another, an example of people who live quite rurally using neighbors' pantries as grocery stores. Of course she didn't just hand me the eggs and run; we got into chatting about people and their stories, what fascinating things people have to say when you are willing to listen, how Ira Glass has revolutionized radio with honoring human stories of all manners. We decided that no matter where you stand on this planet, there are captivating stories all around. Any direction you look or listen from any vantage point, there is a good, or at least interesting, inspiring or heartbreaking story to be found. We live in a world of abundant stories.

This paralleled my experience of earlier that day, on a little expedition up to the Lone Pine Gap area of Paint Creek, in the Cherokee National Forest. I went with Mentor and his son to collect pictures of 24 native species of plants for the son's botany class and to do a little bird watching. This section of the forest that we were in was quite different from the moist rich cove where I dwell. Piney and a bit scrubby up top, this hillside appears to have burned relatively recently and no doubt was logged sometime in the not so distance past. Beneath the tiny layer of rich top soil, the ground was greyish and so different from the soils I encounter on a more daily basis. As Mentor and his son scurried around snapping pictures, I had the thought that we could probably stand in one spot without moving and gather 24 species of plants easily. I posed this challenge, and this is what we came up with:

Castanea dentata, American chestnut
Rhododendron calendulaceum, Flame azalea
Vaccinium ?, Deerberry
Vaccinium ?, some other species of wild blueberry
Lysimachia quadrifolia, Whorled loosestrife
Kalmia latifolia, Mountain laurel
Pieris floribunda, Fetter-bush
Acer pensylvanicum, Striped maple
Acer rubrum, Red maple
Sassafras albidum, Sassafras
Oxydendrum arboreum, Sourwood
Quercus prinus, Chestnut oak
Quercus rubra, Red oak
Pinus rigida, Pitch pine
Pinus virginiana, Virginia pine
Cornus florida, Dogwood
Robinia pseudo-acacia, Black locust
Nyssa sylvatica, Black gum
Gaultheria procumbens, Wintergreen
Epigaea repens, Trailing arbutus
Rhododendron maximum, Rhododendron
Liriodendron tulipifera, Tulip poplar
Carya sp?, Hickory
Rhus toxicodendron, Poison ivy

I suppose just like people, the biodiversity of the flora around here also has stories to tell. Fire. Erosion. Time. Decay. Adaptation. Speciation. Evolution.



4 comments:

Girl In An Apron said...

Righteous! Wickedly righteous.

Eduard Thijs said...

Yeha, I can read again!!!!!

Eagan Rackley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
silver said...

the standing in one place and compiling a list of twenty four plants made me smile. how many more do you think there were?

i remember being at an 'open space technology' event in the old barn (now burned) at warren wilson in the mid-naughties. i was in a small group talking about edible and medicinal plants when robert eidus told us that on a south facing slope in these (those) mountains, you might easily find 50 edibles and medicinal plants. on a north-facing slope, you could find 300-500.

i don't remember much else from that day and i must have been to a number of small groups. i remember the dark interior, teh big circle at the beginning...or was it the end? i think i sang a song as my introduction. the biodiversity difference of north and south slopes has stuck with me.

bt posted you're at the moth tonight which made me think of you and stories and that i hadn't been here for a while. i'm glad you're telling your stories, dana-dee!