Pollan, Michael. 2002. The Botany of Desire. pg. xiii-xxv. Random House Trade Paper Backs, United States of America.
The Botany of Desire, I sure am glad this is in free write form… so here goes.
I find myself on my green second hand chair having just finished my readings for Plants and People at 10:32 pm on a Wednesday night looking down at the notebook that has doubled as not only my lab journal, but my metacognitive diary and book of thoughts for plants and people. The first line I have written comes from a moment I had in lab when I found it sad that it is now unconventional to seriously take the plants point of view into consideration. This, for some reason or another, made me think of the fallacy of choice. Lets take me for instance, the circumstances in my life led me to this moment in from of my computer, although I would like to think it was all a choice to be here, but every decision that I look back on makes me feel like everything I did, whether I willed it or not, was just me taking the best course of action for my circumstance. In this moment I feel like the best course of action for me is to break down the title of the Botany of Desire. When I think about Botany I think of an old lady walking me through a garden and telling me stories of how this plant or another has saved her life during some pandemic or a legend about how another plant came into being. And when I think of desire coupled with botany I can’t help but wish that I got to pick herbs with my grandma Jenny, and all the stories of how she was such a wonderful woman who acted as the mom for all of the kids on the reserve, always taking them out and telling them what she needed for rabbit stew and bannock. I never had the pleasure of meeting her… She was murdered before I was born and over the past little while there has been a lot of talk of missing and murdered indigenous women and then it hit me… My grandma was one of them… I miss her without ever meeting her. Who knew that a poker game would change the face of my family forever… from what I hear she knew about all of the plants in our area, not only did she know about them, she knew how to use them to heal, to kill and to eat. She fed nine children, making miracles every time she took them for a walk. Although she didn’t wasn’t a trained botanist, she was a gatherer and a medicine women in the truest sense of the word, talking to plants to let them know she was grateful for their gifts, asking them if they would hurt or help her children. Gathering people, gathering plants, gathering children but mostly gathering love. I thought it would only be appropriate to couple botany and desire with grandma, we all have or had one… a matriarch, someone who held the family together… If she was still alive I probably wouldn’t be in Kamloops, and my dad probably would have never met my mom and Im sure my family would still be together in Cold Lake. A wise woman once told me “women are the spirit of a community” and I think its true. As women are the spirit of the community, although seemingly physically weak and tender, they feed and nourish communities and families, much like plants. If there are no women, there is no family, and if there are no plants, there is no us… Pollen talks about us being intermittently aware of our desires and plants only caring about reproduction, so I think I’ll speak for the potato – I am intimately aware of you Mr. Pollan, so intimate that my and aware that my “knobby charms” and “buttery yellow flesh” seduced you into planting my seed.-P.xv
I found the 4 desires that Pollan describes as very accurate and could feel those desires as he described them just by the mention of the plant species he describes-Apple(sweet-grandmas laugh)-Tulip(beauty-grandmas character)-cannabis(intoxication grandmas food)-Potato(control grandmas food)… sheesh I write a lot…
here is a break…
I found Pollans writing style very poetic and hilarious in his writing, he makes me want to read on so bad that I had to check the readings list to make sure we would be able to read more from it and thankfully we do.
He flipped the way I think upside down.”Plants are natures alchemists” on p xix reminded me how much more advanced plants are than humans, in both defence and propagation. We should consider ourselves lucky that plants chose us to take advantage of us, it was for our own benefit. “it makes just as much sense to think of agriculture as something grasses did to people as a way to conquer the trees”p. xxi-Priceless.
Today my baby radishes, peas, sunflowers and corn sprouted. 🙂 the same wise women also said “if a man can raise a seed to harvest, he is ready to raise a family.” It seems to me like all of the wise people in my life are women, I’m a feminist male who loves peas, radishes and sunflowers.
Diamond, Jared. 1999. Guns, Germs and Steel. Pg 116-130. Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing, United States of America.
This guy is a damn good writer, talking about how to make an almond. This guy must be crazy like Lyn, because she uses a lot of what he talks about in lecture and it all flows so nicely together. He starts off with hikers in foraging for wild foods and talks about how jaded they must be which served as a great point of entry to capture me as a reader and I found myself on a journey reading about how ancient scientists used latrines as their first test plots for crops and describes the selective pressures we have consciously placed on plants such as size, tastiness and usefulness. He also describes the unconscious features we have selected for such as seed dispersal in scattering peas and cereal grains. Its come to 11:51 and I have gotten tired and basically want to get this over with so pardon the shortness, I used up all of my story telling for one night. Diamond goes through the reasons for the domestication of plants such as a quick harvest, difficulties of apples, pears, plumbs and cherries to grow and the advent of grafting in china. He brilliantly connects natural selection with agriculture in the last sentence so Im just going to quote it out of tiredness “These principles of crop selection still serve as our most understandable model of the origin of species by natural selection.” p. 130
His language combines definitions with story and botanical use which was very well written.
that was rough, and long… next time ill cut back on the personal anecdoteish things