It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Grab Your Running Shoes, We Are Covering Some Ground

I have a lot of favorite blogs to read, if I let it get away from me like a day or two, I can actually have Goggle Reader telling me I have something like 400 to 500 items (posts on blogs) to read, yikes.

Sometimes that is a little daunting to wake up to, ya know what I mean? But then it is easy to dispatch because I can read most all of them off of my reader and not have to click over to their actual blog, unless they are one of those folks that "make" you come to their blog by only letting GR show a snippet of each post. If it catches my interest I'll pop over and finish reading it, but sometimes I wish folks didn't do that. It causes me to want to read their stuff less not more, but what the hay I'm not one to try and make a buck off how many times my blog has been viewed so, yeah, I get it, umm, I understand it but I actually may fail in "getting it".

I've dispensed with a lot of other reading that I used to do that I don't anymore 'cause I have blogs to read. I don't "do" magazines any more. Well I would like to subscribe to one in particular, well two actually, they are farming magazines. No, not country fu fu living magazines but Stockman Grass Farmer and Small Farmer's Journal, they have solid, actual farming articles that spur me on, one I pick up often from the local library and the other I discovered through the editor's book on pastures and I sent for a copy of the newsletter, oops off track here. Suffice it to say I have given up some of my other types of reading for the delight of reading blogs. Real life by real people. Not fluffed up nonsense and darn near lies by "professional writers". But I am bordering on complaining so I'll stop and continue with what I was really going to say.

One of my favorite blogs to read, Farside_of_Fifty, had some great posts that I read today (the other day now, as this is a delayed post). One was about her dog, nice darn dog, great breed; another on historical markers and a social studies teacher, and another about larch trees or Tamaracks. They were great. All her posts are great, even when she is storming about silly self-absorbed neighbors. The pieces, like usual, were windows into her life and they brought up thoughts and memories of mine, like a good piece of writing ought.

We don't see larch on our side of the Cascades but it is a tree that is cemented in my blood from childhood. My father grew up in the land of larch, and he taught me about them and most all of the trees in Washington including ones he came to know as an adult living on the wetter Westside.

Farside spoke of a social studies teacher in a post just before or just after, I forget which, her post on larch. She spoke of her social studies teacher as the only teacher in their local education district as one she would give more than two cents for, or something to that effect. Someone who actually taught. Those sort of teachers are rare, whether in Minnesota or Washington, in the sixties or now. It was the mention of social studies that caught me not so much the good teacher. But that played a part.

When we took Stephie, now nearly twenty-eight, out of second grade and became her primary source of education, the janitor at the elementary school gave us a slew of sample text books. That was the day that signed the death warrant for "text" books in my brain. I shuffled through them and decided on a few to keep.

We, Steph and I cracked open a social studies book meant for third graders and settled in for some fun and interesting facts. We learned a lot about Hawaii in that first chapter. Wow, who knew. The chapter spurred us on to learn even more things from other sources. But eventually it was time to move on to the next chapter. Washington! My favorite state!

We snuggle on the couch with Baby Bert and crack the big impressive book open to Chapter Two, Washington State. And I began reading; "Washington state is also called the Evergreen state" But then come the words; "A conifer tree is an evergreen and a broadleaf is deciduous." You know the sound Dear Reader, the needle scraping on the vinyl record. I read further to myself to see if they correct their gross generalization, but no, they left it there. Misinformation.

There is a lot of misinformation out there. This misinformation in particular is rampant in the world of information dispensers. The number one example of misinformation in the arbor world to me is equating evergreen with conifer or broadleaf with deciduous. The similar and related problem is when we think of evergreen and broadleaf as opposites.

Enter two of my father's favorite trees, the larch and the madrone. The larch is a conifer, needles for leaves and cone-bearing yet, deciduous, its needles turning a beautiful burnished yellow/gold in the fall and dropping leaving the tree naked until spring. The madrone, a broadleaved evergreen tree, the only thing it regularly sheds is its outer bark. Not just a broadleaved bush that is evergreen like rhododendron or salal or kinikinic or Oregon grape, but a tree.

Teachers, aren't always where we think we find teachers, my father, and my mother for instance, I think, no, I know, I learned more from these two people than any other institute of learning. I learned things I needed to learn. Mom and Dad, imparted to me everything I now hold as necessary to a good and thoughtful life. Yes, I learned from others, but all that, I do believe, was secondary and would not have made a hill of beans without the teachings of my parents.

Well, suffice it to say that the book slammed shut and went to the garbage. Not to mention we wondered what misinformation we just swallowed about Hawaii that we had no idea about. Oh we will never know the horrible mistakes we could be perpetuating to this day because we read that first chapter.

What is the point of my story? Don't believe everything you read. Think about it. Why would evergreen be synonymous with conifer, or broadleaf's antonym? Think about the words being used. Think about the words being used in the situation before you? Words matter. Origin of words, not just their common use, matters.

The other point? Don't be too hard on people who don't seem to know stuff that they talk about, they were probably educated with text books. Actually there are plenty of places to pick up misinformation. So if you feel the need to correct, correct in gentleness knowing that you may very well be the next corrected.

Mispronunciation bugs me a lot less than improper usage, spelling bugs me even less than that. No body cut down a tree because they couldn't pronounce or spell its name but I am betting there are many a Tamarack that were cut down in January when folks went out to start doing a little early landscaping and saw that the tree the nursery sold them last year is now dead.

I know my mom's neighbor would have. Every year for at least three of the last years that my mom lived there, he would tell my brother or I that my mom's tree by his fence was dead and that while we were out there taking care of her place we should cut it down. I guess he would always forget that he saw it lovely and green each summer, this fellow wasn't old enough to suffer dementia. It became a family joke. But seriously how many Tamaracks have been cut down because we people are lazy and think that conifer is synonymous with evergreen?


This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Lanny: No Tamarack Trees are cut down for Christmas trees, The Tamarack Tree turns yellow in the Fall and loose all their leaves as Winter approaches. We have them in two of our area parks. I have shown them several times on by blog.

A. Joy said...

Yes! This is just how I feel / felt whenever I'd get a book on rabbits from the library. Sooooo frustrating - pretty much everything written in those books is misinformation and some of it even harmful to pet bunnies! Some farmer who REALLY raised rabbits for show, pets and meat should write a childrens book about raising rabbits. Now when we read our 'Christian History' books and the topic of native Americans comes up - Tom usually has problems with the way the books tell the story. Thanks for standing up for the trees of our lovely state!

commoncents said...

Beautiful post! I really like you page - keep up the great work!

ps. Link Exchange?

Far Side of Fifty said...

Hi Lanny, Thanks for reading my blog! I really should have called those Tamaracks Deciduous Conifers that look very much like Evergreens, instead of Deciduous Evergreens! Some times my brain moves faster than my fingers. To every rule out there..there are always exceptions. I love the golden Larch in the Fall, and yes those unaware would cut it down in the winter for firewood..the pitchy sap and the weight of the wood will convince them to look and think more carefully next time.

I believe I enjoy some of the same blogs as you do, simple country folk..with really interesting lives.

I believe I would have enjoyed home schooling my girls, you are very lucky to have had that opportunity:)

Eggs In My Pocket / Yesteryear Embroideries said...

I don't know how you keep up! I have just a handful of blogs on my sidelist that I visit once a week, I am so busy, and it takes me forever to comment and say hi. I love "blogland" and all of the folks I have met because of it. I just started back up my reading, in the late afternoon.....well night...early morning hours..after I stitch. Have a good weekend ahead! blessings,Kathleen