The tropical montane forest and desert houses in the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory at The New York Botanical Garden are connected by an underground tunnel. The Garden has recently installed large light panels presenting the work of six scientists in this space. My work is displayed in one of these (shown rather obliquely above). [NOTE: That's Dr. Michael J. Balick, Vice President of Botanical Science and Director of the Institute of Economic Botany (where I work) taking a picture].
"Our skills and works are but tiny reflections of the wild world that is innately and loosely orderly. There is nothing like stepping away from the road and heading into a new part of the watershed. Not for the sake of newness, but for the sense of coming home to our whole terrain. "Off the trail" is another name for the Way, and sauntering off the trail is the practice of the wild. That is also where - paradoxically - we do our best work".
[NOTE: Go here for nice film profile of Gary Snyder. A belated happy birthday and best wishes for many more].
Murciélagos, or bats, are the main pollinators of the Agave species used to make mescal. In addition to the graphs and data tables that were on the walls of the meeting room where the mescaleros presented their work (see Mescal Re-Visited), the monitoring teams had also drawn several posters about the importance of bats. Wonderfully whimisical and informative. Three of my favorites are shown below with approximate translations of the text:
Pollinators of Agaves: The Maguey Bat. Through pollination, the maguey bats insure the genetic diversity of the agaves and reduce their vulnerability to pests and disease. The fruit bat eats fruits. Take care of all of them.
We have to take care of bats because they benefit magueys through pollination and also in the production of fertilizer (guano) and the control of pests. There are also bats the suck the blood from livestock and transmit disease. We should be very careful with them because they are dangerous.
Take care of bats and other pollinators. With posters in public places in schools, clinics, and stores. Or talking with friends and your children about how you shouldn't bother bats. Don't put insecticide on fruit trees.
[NOTE: Those are my black Converses shown in the lower right of image 1 and 3. The wind was blowing the posters away before I could photograph them].
Mescal still at Acateyahualco in Guerrero, Mexico. The fermented Agave mash (see Mescal) goes in on the right and is cooked, cooled, and the resultant distillate drips out into the plastic jug on the right through the green funnel. Flowers and blue cross are a nice touch. [NOTE: A high resolution copy of this image can be dowloaded here. Nice desktop image for your computer - especially for mescal aficionados].
After everyone had finished making their Biltmore sticks (see What I Do), I had them line up and measure the diameter of a nearby oak tree. They were to measure the tree, but not tell anyone else what they got. When everyone had finished, we compared the results. Everyone was pretty nervous about this, but they (almost) all assigned the tree to the same 5 cm diameter class.