My blog title came very naturally for me... get it?
I guess some of this explanation will stem from how I came to call myself a naturalist in the first place. Maybe I should define the word "naturalist" first. I have already expounded on the word "angle" in my very first blog post, so no need to repeat all that.
A naturalist is:
- one that advocates or practices naturalism
- a student of natural history
- a field biologist
I've recently taken notice of the many "master naturalist" programs being offered by state natural resources agencies, much like the "master gardener" programs that are so well known. Do I think the "graduates" of these "master naturalist" training programs are really naturalists? Some may be, some probably not. I don't know that you can condense a lifetime of experiences in nature into a 12 step program. I'm glad to see that there are enough people interested in the natural world to justify having such programs. On the other hand, I feel like my "training" as a naturalist has been a lifelong love affair with nature that could never have been taught in a class. For me becoming a naturalist isn't just about memorizing the names of trees or butterflies, it's about the experiences that can only be had in nature. Truthfully, I learned most of what I know from books, but my experiences in nature drove my desire to learn more.
It started when I was a small child and my mother would show me "woolly bear" caterpillars in the flower bed and cicadas hanging on the bark of the oak tree in our back yard. My mother sparked my interest in the natural world very early on, and it has grown steadily to this day. My mother is no biologist nor is she a naturalist herself. She just took me outside and shared the simple wonders of nature with me during my developmental years. She didn't really know all that much, but she offered what she knew and it has made a world of difference for me. This is something way too many children are missing in their lives today. Hence, the vast majority of today's youth suffer from "nature deficit disorder"- a term coined by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. Interestingly, Mr. Louv also wrote a book entitled Fly-Fishing for Sharks... but I'll save discussion about that for another day.
In elementary school I was the kid who picked up the insect instead of trying to squish it under my shoe. In high school I had friends who called me "nature man." In college I majored in biology, and my career interests have always been related to animals and nature. All my life, I have wanted to turn my passion for nature into a career, and I have had the pleasure of doing that for at least part of my professional life.
During college, I began spending a lot of my time in the natural world at night. I am more comfortable in the dark than most people, and some of my most memorable experiences in nature have taken place in the dark of night. For example, getting to see and photograph things like this:
|Yellowbelly Watersnake consuming a Bullfrog|
As a result of my love affair with nature at night, I probably know more about flashlights than the average person. (If you ever need any advice about a good flashlight feel free to ask.) In addition to learning a lot about flashlights, I came up with a possible title for my memoir when I write that sometime down the road. I thought I would call it "The Nocturnal Naturalist." I thought that was pretty creative.
It turns out there are already two somewhat obscure books published with this title: The Nocturnal Naturalist by Kelvin Boot (1985) and The Nocturnal Naturalist by Cathy Johnson (1989). I immediately hunted down copies of these books when I learned of them. So Kelvin and Cathy beat me to it... but neither of their books are what mine would be... so I might still use it one day. Cathy didn't seem to mind borrowing the title from Kelvin, why should I? To be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed with both of the books they had labeled with "my" title.
|My title... stolen before I even thought of it.|
"The Naturalist's Angle" may not be as creative as I thought my future memoir title was, but I think it fits my blog well. In truth my blog title is pretty straight forward, and probably didn't need so much explanation... but maybe you know me a little better now.
My naturalist tendencies are what drew me to fly fishing over fifteen years ago, and fly fishing has become my most regular activity as a naturalist. I imagine my perspective on things as a "fly fishing naturalist" isn't much different from that of most other fly fishers. I think the very nature of fly fishing requires a fly fisher to use the skills of a naturalist. I guess what separates fly fishers from ordinary naturalists is the equipment of fly fishing and the ability to cast a fly line. Perhaps not all "students of natural history" would make good fly fishers, but I firmly believe all good fly fishers are inherently naturalists.