Thursday evening’s videos showed clouds to the east– the rain we’d had an hour or so earlier. This photo is the beginning of a little squall line that blessed us with an evening shower.
Years ago, I took up bird watching– even bought the National Audubon Society Field Guide. It told me that every year thousands of folks take up birding, and their first goal is “learning to identify the hundreds of species in their own area.” Later in the Introduction, it told me that I must “learn to note essential details quickly.” And then it provided me a list of these essential details at which I most assuredly did not look. I put the damned book on the shelf and did not look at it for two months. During those months, I took hundreds of photographs, and filled a notebook full of drawings and notes. Observations.
I made one exception to not wanting to know the name of a bird the first time I saw it. I remember hollering to Mr. Big Food, “Hey! What kind of giant bird has a white head and black body?” He asked where it was– flying back and forth over our bend in of the north fork of the Shenandoah River. It was so big even he could see it. He said, “Bald eagle?” The next day I confirmed that there were indeed bald eagles in the area. (Brings a tear to my eye just remembering this.) But I digress.
One does not need to know the name of something to observe how it behaves and inter- and reacts to other unnamed things in its proximal and distal environments. I’d even argue that one becomes a better observer if one is not ladened with labels, names, and a list of essential details to look for. Discover these details by watching. It’s called
crappy old fashioned learning. (I’ll grant that names come in handy when communicating with others.)
Two points. First, I do not know the names of the various cloud formations, though I have
crappy old books on weather forecasting and cloud identification right over there. That does not stop me from observing the sky and other components of my environment and learning how they interact. For example, when I open the door and air rushes in and I have to push to close it, I know the atmospheric pressure outside is rising. When I open the door to let the dogs out and it slams on Missy’s tail before she’s through, the pressure is falling. I don’t need to know what the pressure is to know this. Not knowing cloud names doesn’t stop me from carefully observing the sky as it relates to the weather. It shouldn’t stop you, either.
Second, I like my gadgets just as much as you like yours. But something I read the other day– interestingly, while I was working on Part 3 of Gathering Information on Bad Weather– gave me pause about the foci of that series.
The younger GPS generation was lost when their screens went dark. Their brains had been wired from early childhood to be led and directed from point to point by computer-generated voices and pixel arrows. By the time the grid went down most people were incapable of learning to navigate by map and compass, and anyway, almost nobody had them.
The screen addicts couldn’t light a fire with an entire pack of matches: I’d seen them wasting match after match in the rain. The concept of dry kindling wood had escaped their educations entirely.Alas, Brave New Bracken, by Matt Bracken, Monday, August 26, 2013
[h/t American Digest]
Keep your matches dry and look up at the sky every now & again.