29 July ~ 2021

When I go out hiking in mountain wildflower season, I try to remember all the scientific names of the plants that I learned when I was young. It is comforting that I can recall most of them, but occasionally I catch myself in mistakes, which I try to set right - for my own satisfaction. Today I realized what I thought was Valeriana edulis was actually Saxifraga rhomboidea. It was a matter of looking closer, to get it right. This is probably all a good exercise to aid in mental sharpness as I progress through old age.

I majored in Biology with a Botany emphasis in college because of my interest in nature ever since I was teenager, wandering the San Gabriel Mountains of California with my dog. Even before that I would go out and explore anything wild I could find. My earliest memory was finding a pond behind a gas station in the suburbs of Omaha. I can still remember the wonder I felt at observing tadpoles and other aquatic life. That interest led to my first job after college, as a Biological Technician. Later my position was converted to Botanist, and I eventually landed a position as a Plant Ecologist which allowed my family to move back to Denver. Even though I had to go back to school and learn computer programming, then change positions so my family could stay in Denver, my early interest in Botany is what led to a 40 year career. After starting work as a computer programmer, I tried to maintain my interest in Botany and Biology by volunteering for nature centers, and hiking and backpacking with my dogs.

Now as an old man my interest is nature and biology has been rekindled, because of all the free time I have to be outdoors. Yesterday morning I set the alarm for 4am, so the dogs and I could be on the way up a mountain trail close to first light. The wildflowers were near peak bloom, and the feeling in the spruce forest was magical.

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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"

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