Domain, Domain in my Range

One of the things I'm enjoying as I delve into the mysteries of Mother Earth's bosom, AKA dig in the dirt, is a sense of growing expertise in a particular domain of knowledge and practice. I'm a mere novice, but I'm starting to know a thing or two.

For example I now know this: There are only two kinds of pruning cuts, heading cuts and thinning cuts. I didn't know that a couple months ago. I can also look at a tree or shrub and see more or less where to apply those two cuts to help the tree grow a balanced and healthy framework. Not like a professional of course, but like someone who cares and learns. And I understand a little about meristems, the parts where plants actually grow, and about auxin, the hormone that controls where the growth occurs (but I had to look up auxin, I confess!).

I wish today I could go down to Alrie Middlebrooks nursery and learn some more, joining the event put on by the California Native Garden Foundation: "Hope for a Green Future" - But I have other work I must do today. The most I can do is provide a link, probably too late to enable any reader to attend, but you can look at the web page.

I have the feeling that I'll be participating more fully in the domain of sustainable, ecological horticulture over time. Maybe I won't, but I feel as if I will. I have a sense of direction in this. It's a very good feeling, to be on a path.

In my work as a tech writer, I am a conduit for information, and not its source. The software domain of expertise is not mine; it's just the one I serve. It's a good job, especially for a compulsive writer like me, full of good people I enjoy working with. But I do find that aspect of it frustrating.

It's a particular pleasure then for me to begin growing a domain of expertise and knowledge that I can enjoy and share, and to join a community of others interested in the same domain.

My body of knowledge is about at the stage of a cutting that's just putting out roots and beginning to absorb nutrients from the soil. Maybe, just maybe it'll become a whole plant one day.

I'm not sure I've ever been an enthusiast before, but when I notice the glazed look on a face as I explain, say, how to tell the native spurge from the non-native, I realize I'm becoming one.

(Oh yeah well there was also the time I thought that I could win the heart of a young man by explicating The Eve of Saint Agnes, a long and lushly beautiful poem by John Keats. That didn't work either.)

I can empathize with other enthusiasts more now. I never really understood birders before. Now I totally get it. Well not totally because I'm not a birder, though I'm slowly learning to differentiate the "small brown birds" that abound in the chaparral and woods about me.

Differentiation is a part of it. Everything becomes more vivid, and you see more. There's an opening-up feeling, as you learn about and can appreciate more aspects of something. It's such a deep pleasure - serving as it does that deep human need - the need to comprehend.

I only ever felt this pleasure in the domain of poetry and literature before. A life devoted to literature is my road not taken. And a dominant motif in my life has been to look back on that choice with regret.

But now the road taken diverges again, as roads do. Without knowing it really, I seem to have taken the grassier road this time, and I'm excited.

(Wilder Ranch State Park - Santa Cruz)


Well said! As for me, I find there's something deeply satisfying in writing about nature rather than, say, antique furniture. Or am I wrong? Are the antique furniture bloggers also feeling a deep connection to the natural world?
Country Mouse said…
Hm... Antique collectors probably feel a deep and living connection to time and history, which is another "root" to take!
Town Mouse said…
I remember one memorable native garden visit where 8 eager visitors were gathered around the host, who was explaining the wildflowers growing on a slope. Here's the lupine, and here's the native grasses he said, bending down and pointing, and we all watched with shining eyes -- except it was October and the wildflowers were about 1/16 of an inch tall ;->
Ann D. Travers said…
A very introspective piece, TM. I admire your pruning finesse - I could use a lesson or two from you. So much more to learn in life as we get older. Isn't it great? I love it.
Katie said…
Very well put! Learning new things all the time keeps us creative and open to new experiences, and friends.
Gail said…
Passion is a good thing to find! Passion combined with discipline and learning and the whole world opens up to us! I am smiling with you! gail
Ann D. Travers said…
Country Mouse,
I'm afraid I gave credit to Town Mouse for today's posting here. Obivously I'm a new fan of the blog you two share. Great photos and postings. Must be good fun sharing the writing. You are both quite talented. Looking forward to more.
joey said…
Enjoyed your musing with perfect photo. Living life and learning ... a wholesome quest!
Anonymous said…
You are right to be proud of the domain you're creating. I've been designing for 5 years and was in school for two years before that, but until recently only used natives in the most casual way. I'm learning a lot from you mice as well as Troy at Garden Natives.
Country Mouse said…
Appreciate all these comments - I don't think it bothers either of us meeces if readers aren't too aware of who writes what - we are both glad to put out the good word, and say a few reflective words now and then. I'm just so glad people stop by!
Town Mouse said…
Yes, we get that all the time. I became a Blotanical user first, and only one of us can have the blog associated with the account. But Country Mouse is better at leaving comments on other people's post. So it all balances out. We just enjoy the visits...