Friday, April 09, 2004

Nature is Calling
Yesterday I signed up for a Kalamazoo Nature Center program Engaging Citizens in Science.

There were many interesting topics to choose from. I selected Plants.

First is a two hour intensive classroom study of plant anatomy and plant communities with a naturalist and a botanist. That happens April 21.

Second is a three hour field trip to practice our new plant identification skills. That happens April 25.

As part of the Plant program, there are two additional three hour field trips, one to a bog and one to a fen.

After the education, I'm supposedly ready to survey plant populations on land protected by the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. And I owe them a minimum of fifteen hours of just that.

My plan from the very start of my unemployment was no new commitments for a year. Just relax, enjoy, catch up, and see where the Lord leads me.

DH Bob said he thought that plan would last two months. It lasted four. But this commitment is only for about thirty hours. It's a test. I'm going to try on this biologist/naturalist shoe and see if it fits.

This is not completely off the wall for me. I have a BS degree in Biomedical Science. My emphasis was on microbiology, but the degree includes a number of biology classes, including botany.

I do have a few concerns, although not with the main task of plant identification.

First concern, I have no sense of direction. It's not just poor, it doesn't exist.

I was so concerned about this that I called and talked to one of the naturalists before I signed up for the project. She very kindly assured me that getting lost is a valid concern. She also offered several good suggestions and assured me it wasn't a show stopper.

I really don't want special consideration. I'm thinking that it's about time I put some work into learning to find my way around. Step one will be to get a compass and learn how to use it. Then, I'll make sure my cell phone is handy and charged up before I head out.

Second concern is my physical condition. It could be so much better. Another area where I need to get to work and see what's possible. This project would have been physically impossible before I lost weight. Now it's possible but challenging.

That's what all this is about. A new challenge. I'm excited. Even if it turns out to be one of the worse ideas I ever had, I will have learned something new about what I want to do - or not do - with the rest of my life.