Someone told me today that someone else had mentioned to them that I don't just say, "oh look, a bird," but name them, "oh look, a kestrel," and I tell them about the plants... "this is echinacea, it's good for immune system stimulation."

Hearing this made me rather happy, since it has always been my dream to be someone who can identify flora, fauna, and other parts of nature. I haven't formally studied naturalism, botany (beyond a plant biology class in college), ornithology (birds), herbal medicine, or other such things, but I have picked up a fair bit in a broad sampling kind of way. I probably wouldn't measure up to most foragers, herbalists, or naturalists, but I'm on my way. It was gratifying to hear that I give that impression.



I do intend to formally study one or more of the above, as soon as I can. I think that people who carry such knowledge are a community treasure. As a child, they impressed me so much that I wanted to be a naturalist or scientist more than a princess or pop star. I don't even remember if there was a specific person that made this impression, it might have just always been amazing to me whenever I saw it, in person or in books and movies. At the end of high school I was looking into forestry programs and dendrology, the study of trees, (though I didn't end up starting college until some years later). Ethnobotany, the study of human/plant relationships in various cultures, is what drew me into anthropology. I love this field of study for the sense of possibility it gives. Humanity is so much older and bigger than the worldview of a single culture allows one to see. And so many cultures see nature in a bigger partnership/community than mine does. Amazing possibilities... huge, diverse eco-community... so many ways to live well together...

When I go back to school in a few years, I'll take up anthropology/ethnobotany again, along with perhaps giving an emphasis to naturalism and/or plants in my Druidic studies and Hedgewitchery skill-building. I would love to serve my community in that capacity; connecting the village with the wild. That's the kind of elder I aim to be... a guide to nature, including human nature and the nature of culture, and the numinous spirit of it all.

What kind of elder will you aim to be? What studies do you hope to gather and then offer to the world?