Simply the Nature of Nature

I’m not the most sophisticated naturalist in the world. I know some some birds, wildflowers and some science around living things,but I see myself as more of a carnival barker for nature. What I really want to do is shout, “Hey look at that, isn’t that neat? Here’s WHY!” I think in my line of work a certain ignorance may be a plus, which is obviously why my employer seems to be happy with my work. What I mean is it’s tough to get charged up about Acalypa Rhomboidea. But the common name Green Adder’s Mouth sounds mysterious and sexy. If you follow that salacious moniker up with the fact that it’s an endangered plant and not a dirty movie, an orchid growing 4-10 inches tall with miniscule flowers well- camouflaged by color that blossoms from June to August, well, cheeks may color with interest. (Folks blush about orchids more readily these days anyway, after that movie with Meryl Streep, The Orchid Thief.) So I use common names, not the Latin, when I go walking with groups.  What I want is for people to (quite literally) catch the nature bug.  They may catch it from me, and then go far beyond.  I try to be as infectious as possible.  Nature is important.

I’m not a scientist. But I sure am enthusiastic about the science of nature. It seems my I’ve spent my life walking outside and saying “What the heck is that?” Unable to leave the question unanswered, over the years I’ve scoured books and (these days) websites, gone to museums, and bought innumerable field guides in order to achieve a certain intimacy with the natural world. I’m comfortable there, and to a degree I see how it all goes together and why one thing needs another. Interdependence is a fundamental element of life. As humans we are included in that. And I think everyone ought to know it. So I’m shouting it out in my simple terms, the ones that most of us understand and grasp more viscerally.

I really wish they would stop teaching about the rain forest in elementary school classrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I find the rain forest as fascinating as anyone, and I worry about it a lot. But that’s why I want them to stop scaring the little kids about it. It’s pretty hard to teach about the rain forest without mentioning that it’s going to be a housing development before the children graduate from college. Why bother being excited about nature when there’s no point? That’s the lesson kids take away. Better to save the rainforest for middle and high schoolers and let them exercise some critical thinking on its problems. Instead, get the younger kids outside right here in their own environment. Show them how exciting their native forest is by letting them handle frogs and bugs, find crickets, catch fireflies, do the bee dance, learn their wildflowers. What we have here is as thrilling as the nature found all over the planet.

I’m lucky. I have Hill-Stead Museum’s woodland, wetland and meadows with which to dazzle visitors.  In a simple way I can show off the exciting nature of environment. In our 152 acres there is enough titillation for the jaded. We even have rare orchids.

See you on the trails,
Diane Tucker, Estate Naturalist


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15 Responses to “Simply the Nature of Nature”

  1. Bridget Willard Says:

    I’d love a tour, if I ever make it to the East Coast.

  2. Anne Melissa Dowling Says:

    Once again, terrific. Your form of infection is very healthy!

  3. Christine Says:

    you certainly fanned the flames of my son Devlin’s interest in birds! (Now he’s switched to studyingpulsars in college…but says he might be able to slip in an ornithology class somewhere) keep up the good work!!!

    • Diane Tucker Says:

      Christine! My bet is that he’ll come around again one day to looking at birds. And pulsars are good, too. And very useful. I think of you folks all the time, and hope that I’ll run into you by and by.

  4. Cindy Stanley Says:

    Wonderful as always. I love it that the beautiful orchid is here at Hill-Stead. Missed you at Rob’s last night.

  5. magsx2 Says:

    I saw your comment over at Bente Haarstad Photography blog, so I thought I would come over for a visit and read your blog. 🙂

    Enjoyed reading your post, and it sounds and looks like Hill-Stead is a beautiful place. We have some nice rainforest’s here in Australia as well, with some lovely wildlife, and I agree, it is good to teach young kids the wonders of Nature.

    • Diane Tucker Says:

      I looked at your site(s) too! Terrific! I especially learned a lot about the red tides. Thank you and I hope you’ll look in on us here at Hill-Stead again.
      Diane Tucker

  6. Maggie L R Says:

    I love your enthusias for nature, I too love to get out there, I love taking my grandchildren into the forest to see what we can see. Thanks for dropping by my blog and leading me here to yours.

  7. Cynthia M. Says:

    Hi Diane – just found your blog! I love your phrase – ‘carnival-barker for nature’. I think that pretty well sums up what I do also (while making me chuckle…). I agree that you don’t have to be an expert to be a naturalist – just a sense of passion and curiosity to help infect others with.

    Glad to find you!

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