According to the dictionary, plant taxonomy is “the science that finds, identifies, describes, classifies, and names plants.”
It’s not our family’s strong suit.
When reviewing the events of the past week, plant life seems to be the organizing trend. On Monday, while playing outside after school, Johnny found some red berries. Thankfully, he brought them to me before consuming them. It gave me the opportunity to share a story from my own childhood. A story which involves outdoor play, mushrooms, and syrup of ipecac. And my twin brothers. Anytime I got into real trouble as a kid, they were always by my side.
Childhood memories are pliable but this is how I remember that fateful afternoon. David, John, and I were outside playing in the backyard circa 1978. I think my friend Chrissy was there too. Anyways, our attention was diverted away from the sandbox to some mushrooms. Tasty little grey morsels growing around some Pyracantha shrubs. I imagine David or John took the first nibble but, eventually, we all began eating them. I don’t exactly recall how Mom found out but I will never forget what happened next. On this patio with the fabulous yellow chairs and swing.
Mom called the four of us over to the table, ladled a dose of syrup of ipecac into four spoons, and instructed us to swallow. We had no idea what was coming as we waited. Eventually all four of us began regurgitating the offending, potentially poisonous fungi. Over and over again. I remember Mom sitting at the table with a cup of coffee, green garden hose in hand, spraying off the ground. Cool as a cucumber. She didn’t need to scold us. Lesson learned, literally in the gut. I have never foraged for food again, trusting only what I find in the produce section of a grocery store or farmer’s market. As I told Johnny this story, his eyes grew wide. He put the wild berries down and came inside, opting for an apple instead.
Later in the week, my gaze turned towards the sky. I’ve been watching a tree for the last several months, waiting for it to leaf out. Eventually, it became obvious that the tree was dead. I hesitated to have it removed, knowing it would not be cheap. But a quick call to our insurance company gave me the necessary motivation. Apparently dead trees are not covered under our homeowner’s insurance. Therefore, if the tree were to fall on our home or our neighbor’s home, the company would not cover any damage. Time to pay someone to yell “TIMBER!”
Mario and his crew arrived early Saturday morning. They made quick work of the project and ended up removing three dead trees. Johnny was fascinated to watch the men shimmy up the tree carrying chainsaws. Inspired by this, he ran around to the backyard and climbed a tree himself, barefoot and still wearing his pajamas. Thankfully we don’t own a chainsaw.
The final entry in today’s plant taxonomy lesson occurred last night. Josephine and Mary Frances had run a few errands and done a little shopping. At dinner, they talked about their adventures. They were excited to have snagged some cute crew socks. In bright colors. With a botanical pattern. Mary Frances gave us a fashion show. I thought the socks were adorable. But Sam reserved his praise pending a closer inspection. He asked Mary Frances to bring him the packaging. And then informed our daughters that they had bought socks depicting the marijuana plant.
They are going back.