149. Learn the names of 10 wild plants and be able to identify them
Completed during the summer of 1997
What was I doing during the summer of 1997 that I was able to name and identify at least 10 different wild plants?
I was working as a cotton and tobacco scout. It was an absolutely miserable job that involved tromping through acres and acres of cotton and tobacco fields, looking out for any problems – moth eggs, weeds, slow growth, rapid growth, standing water, drooping leaves, etc.
I’d carry a little map of each individual field with me (I’d visit upwards of 100 field a day), and mark the trouble areas, completing a little form saying what the issues were I found.
Part of my job was to identify the weeds that were taking root in the fields – some were relatively harmless, like chickweed or curly dock, while some were dangerous to the crops, like morning glories or johnson grass, because they grew fast and choked neighboring plants. Identifying the problem plants also let the farmers choose just the right amounts of just the right herbicides to get rid of the offending plants – saving them money and reducing the amount of chemicals introduced to the environment.
I was an environmental studies major in college, and worked this job one summer between semesters of study. Until that summer, I thought I wanted a job much like that – being out in the field identifying issues and making recommendations about how to fix them. A few months tromping around in a swampy and humid North Carolina summer constantly on the lookout for rattlesnakes, hornets, bears, foxes, and armed farmers guarding their hidden hemp crops is enough to change anybody’s mind. I know it surely changed mine. Now I work at a desk building web sites in the air conditioning.