Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Nerdom

Tomorrow, one of my favorite nerds is leaving LA to return to Kentucky for a new opportunity.

I hate losing nerds.

This nerd, in particular, is wonderful. Have you ever had one of those "just add water" friendships, where it feels as if almost as soon as you meet the person, your friendship is a natural extension of breathing? I'm lucky to have a few of those sorts of friendships, and this nerd and I have one. We'd floated around in the periphery of each others' orbits for a year or so, then boom, we actually had an opportunity to get to know each other, and suddenly, double boom, we're buddies. She's one of those nerds that goes on very specific learning kicks. For example, right now she's really into Fibonacci-esque mathematical patterns in nature. She rocks. I'm going to miss her, but now I've got an excuse to visit Kentucky, one of the few states I've never seen. I know when I visit, I'll be eating up all that is new, all that is culturally different from my experience, and my curiosity will have free, untethered rein.

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As my friend leaves Southern California, my sorrow is slightly tempered by discovering two new-to-me blogs that are my kind of nerdy.

I just found Growing with Plants, a man's exploration of the plants he grows and loves, and though most of his posts focus on a particular species that inspires him at the moment, occasionally he writes these wonderful, rambling, personal posts that contextualize the need to be around green things.

And closer to home and my arcane interests is From Seed to Table, a beautiful illustration of a Northern California kitchen garden, with a special focus on heirloom and unique food plants. Someday, I hope to be as garden-accomplished as its author. Seriously, read one of her Harvest Monday posts and try not to drool.

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Last year, I joined California Rare Fruit Growers, an organization dedicated to sharing information about growing unusual fruits. Unusual fruits include not just tropicals but all sorts of heirlooms as well, and you know me, I cannot stay away from any plant that has helped shape history. We meet every other month and usually have a guest speaker. Although the guest speakers are great, my favorite part of the group is the fellow members. At our meetings, people of all varieties, brought together only by a love of growing a their own produce aisles, come together and share their wisdom, relishing each other's nerdiness.


At our last meeting, the botanical information consultant of the Los Angeles County Arboretum led us on a tour of useful and food-producing plants at the Arboretum. Through back trails and rarely visited corners, the man led us. We pushed branches of shrubs out of the way to shimmy through them, looking for ripe fruits hanging from the trees. On the walk, we chatted with each other, examining such issues as composting, which small-fruited guavas grow well in Altadena, and the power of writing. I couldn't ask for a better Saturday morning.

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I believe that everyone has an inner nerd. Everyone wants to learn. I've taught students of all different kinds, and I have yet to meet a kid who doesn't want to learn. Sometimes, they don't know they want to learn. Sometimes, there are so many things going on in their lives that learning seems to be least important. Sometimes, they're so angry that they take that anger out on Opportunity. Sometimes, they're afraid of failing. Sometimes, afraid of succeeding.

But, they all have that little inner nerd burning up inside them, and sometimes I can access it, and sometimes I fail. Too often, I fail. When luck and prayer and hard work go may way, and I do tear through those layers and get to the tiny little information-gnome that has been hidden away for too long, I embrace it. I say, "Welcome to Nerdom. You're going to find it to be a fascinating place."


4 comments:

Michelle said...

Wow, I don't know what to say... but surely I must say thank you for saying such nice things about my blog!

You know you haven't lost your nerdy friend, she's just more difficult to give a hug now.

CRFG is a great group, there's a couple of chapters up my way. They have a great website that is loaded with information.

Christina said...

Michelle: The compliments are well-deserved. And as for losing my friend, you're right on--I haven't. Have a wonderful Friday! (Thank goodness it is finally here! This week took forever.)

Petrea said...

I always knew I liked learning but didn't discover my inner nerd until my fourth decade. Now I embrace that part of myself (ya know, figuratively). Can't stop. Arboretum's a good place to do it. Internet. Library. Etc.

Angie said...

I'm a Kentucky native transplanted to Illinois. It's a gorgeous state and not at all a bad place to live, if you don't mind gardening in red clay. If you're in Kentucky and have time to kill I highly recommend going camping in the Red River Gorge area of Daniel Boone National forest. Goregeous. Especially on the less-traveled trails. Also, if you're in Louisville I recommend Cherokee park - a great place to get lost on a hike in the middle of the city. While you're in the area stop for a coffee at Heine brothers, buy a book at Twice Told Used books, pick up a record at Ear-X-Tacy, and get a cookie at Kizito's. (The cookies that get broken in the cookie-packaging machine are just as fresh-baked and yummy but only cost 25 cents.) *Sigh* I miss home.