It’s not only that I know several birders that are MUCH more knowledgeable than I (with much longer life lists). It’s not only that I know several birders that are also great naturalists, with detailed understanding of habitats and other, non-feathered specimens of Mother Nature’s creatures. It’s quite simply that when it comes to my vices, being a factoid snob isn’t really one of them. There are simply too many facts that I know that I don’t know; and, as the saying goes, there are way too many facts that I don’t even know can be known.No, I am not a factoid snob which pretty much prevents me from being a birding snob. But I admit, when a good friend or family member says “Look at that amazing-looking bird!” I will respond with some phrasing that clarifies the species name of the Aves in question. “Yes, isn’t that a beautiful Great Blue Heron?”
Or a friend will say, “Goodness, look at that!” And I’ll reply, “Doesn’t the Great Blue Heron have an extraordinary neck?”
And so this past week found me walking my neighborhood (in between torrential rains). I was not chasing birds but looking for photographic opportunities to practice depth of field techniques with my 180mm macro lens. A friend called me to suggest that I check out a colony of mushrooms sprouting against the trunk of one of our neighborhood’s beautifully-canopied Live Oak trees.And even though my depth of field technique needs work, I was pleased to sight and photograph these lovely mushrooms:
My best guess is a hypholoma fasciculare, or sulfur tuft mushroom. But this guess reminds me of a beginning birder spotting a fairly large white bird and guessing a Snowy Egret, only to learn it is a juvenile Little Blue Heron.And so I think of one of my favorite words that carries a meaning not commonly understood: manna (as in “manna from heaven”); my understanding (confirmed by an online search engine) is that the Hebrew definition of manna quite literally means “What is it?” So those 40-year wanderers would sight some cache from heaven, run over to it and wonder: “What is it?” I can’t help but picture a great cartoon series of the “What is it?” kind.
So next time you sight a bird, a mushroom or some other natural wonder, ask yourself “What is it?” A bit of manna from Mother Nature…
(And if one of my blog readers happens to know the “What is it” answer for these mushrooms, your non-snobbish factoid knowledge would be greatly appreciated.)