folk knowledge

the picture above is a little plant called spotted pipsissewa. i learned to identify this plant from two older women, who taught me about its use to heal kidney stones and treat stomach issues. that knowledge stuck. i can even tell you that it was four years ago, hiking a section of the bartram trail between rabun bald and warwoman dell on a warm winter day. it was one of the first herbs i ever learned to identify.

above is partridge berry or twin berry, another one of my firsts.

i have no formal training in ecology, environmental science, herbalism, forestry – nothing. everything i know i’ve learned through a combination of self-guided research and folk knowledge. the folk knowledge tends to stick much better. in the past year preparing for my arborist exam, i can’t tell you how many times i went over tree biology. i’d read my chapters, come back to it a month later, and forgot nearly everything. but once someone showed me a cross-section of a tree and explained to me in the field what all the different trunk layers do, it become much more memorable.

today i give thanks for all the teachers i’ve had over the years, from the ones who’ve taught me encyclopedic knowledge to the ones who pointed out some small little thing on a stroll in the woods.

and some mushrooms, just because. happy friday!


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