Roots

In 11th grade I took Ornamental Horticulture. It was my way of rebelling against my Agriculture advisor who wanted me in Advanced Animal Science; he swore I’d never be FFA President if I didn’t get “serious”. But humans don’t listen to commands, they reject them – the Milgram Study at Stanford proved that long ago. Instead they must be led, and I found my education (and my leadership) in OH 1 & 2. Today when I stepped up to the boy’s door, I looked to my left and recited the Latin and common name of their beautifully gradiated tree from memory, “acer palmatim, Japanese Maple”. Take that for getting “serious” is what this past FFA President says.

My rebellious education choice also taught me that almost all plants form one of two different root systems: tap root or fibrous. Tap roots run long and deep with small string-like minor roots; a carrot is an example of a tap root. Fibrous roots are more shallow and each of the many root segments is fairly equal in size.

It’s good to be back in my childhood home. While I was driving back from the guy’s house tonight, I could see the Milky Way cloud and even 14 years after my Science Olympiad Astronomy days, I can still pick out constellations like a boss. It was comforting to wake up to the sun and the sound of the anti-freeze windmills working hard to save the citrus crop, and the mile over mile horizon view is always pretty wonderful.

Fibrous roots capitalize on an evolutionary strategy to draw on different resources from different parts of the soil; those near the surface pick up ground water, some dig deeper for nitrates and others pick up nutrients from other root systems. In understanding where I’m going, I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity and how it’s been drafted by where I’ve been.

Some of this has come up in how my family celebrates (or fails to celebrate) holidays – we aren’t big on tradition. Now with a new addition, that is more and more important to me. I also have to accept that one of the reasons that this place is calming to me is also a reason that I would struggle to return: it’s a fairly static lifestyle where routine dominates most of the lives of my loves. Jodi was excited that she went to…pub trivia, and my attempts to modernize our holiday menus have been met with a slow playing smile and nod.

Some of this came into my consciousness while talking to a local elected over coffee last week. “So, you can talk to techies and farmers? You know about urban land use and water policy? Don’t tell me you can sheer sheep too.” For the record, I totally can – in one piece of wool on a good day.

I spent summers running around orchards and riding bikes for miles. One winter break my brother and I built a paintball course on our property and I spent months singing camp songs and hiking through Yosemite and Kings Canyon. I never went without as a kid – even when things got bad. I always had a roof, a meal, a ride to school and money for the terribly unhealthy food from the snack bar. I played every sport I wanted, was in every club I could be in, went on every field trip, competed internationally, and had people around me that made sure I knew that I Could (fill in the blank). Taking the same attitude in college, I’ve had a ton of experiences and grown roots that have informed so much about the world and myself.

So now where to go and what to pursue? Because I could pick any of these roots or I could opt to grow a new one. One thing is for sure – there isn’t any part of me that even begins to look like a tap root, and maybe that’s okay but I’m going to need to shed the idea that that’s what I was supposed to be.

I have more thoughts and they’ll tie in here soon, but the sing-off just came on and we all know how I feel about A Capella. But for real.

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