Tuesday, November 27, 2012

rancid butter

the best class I ever took in college was called "The Cultural History of Medicinal Plants." I learned more in that over-filled auditorium than in any other classroom I have ever been in. Perhaps it was because it was almost entirely NEW information, and in so learning, I was stretched beyond my normal capacities. I remember several times noting to myself that I could actually feel myself learning. Or perhaps it was because I love the earth and things that grow from it (so many garden anecdotes could fit in here, but won't because writing is unnatural to me lately).
Occasionally information which I learned in that class reappears and makes an important streak across the sky, reminding me of what it means to know things and be educated in practical and practicable things. It's like cooking. Do you know how to cook? The question always baffles me, and a person responding "no" to that question is unfathomable to me sometimes. But I know that there are things which I don't yet (or maybe ever will) know. Anyways.
Today, I was brought back to the Widtsoe Building on BYU campus when I stepped onto a group of fruits lying in the grass. If there is one crucial element to this story, it is this: Nebraska is infiltrated by Squirrels. The concept of piles of fruits or nuts just lying around without a horde of squirrels rummaging through them is unheard of in these parts.  I was weirded out, and, retrospectively, I understand why.

These fruits, and now my boots, smelled acutely and precisely of pungent rancid butter. 

As the smell punched me in the nose, the image of my professor telling me about the scent of rancid butter couldn't be ignored. what was it? I remembered the image of a tree on the screen behind him, and I seemed to remember scribbling something down in my notebook about it. A tree... I prided myself on knowing the trees. My parents were "Master Tree Stewards", and the title was one that I decided I wanted to inherit. I had to know!
And then, I looked closer and remembered the bipedal leaves of the ancient Ginko. Ah yes, the oldest deciduous tree in the world. This old friend of mine. The fruit looks like this:

Sincerely, and with all of the pleading in my nostrils, PLEASE, avoid stepping on these babies. Rancid butter boots are not something that I would wish upon anyone, and as soon as I finish this, I will run to my car and take mine off so that they don't contaminate my car, and I will not wear them for a few weeks. So foul. So. So. So. Foul.

I am thankful for memory and the capacities for remembrance of knowledge. Knowing things is a miracle and a blessing.

Along those lines, I presented this today. It's a for chapter of my thesis.

In semi-related news, if you are looking for something to listen to, and you want to think more about memory and the implications of memory and its erasure from popular culture, you should listen to this. It might make you feel bad, as a warning, but I think it's maybe time for us to start being grown-ups about feeling bad.


*ehu. said...

I want to know what these fruits smell like, so I think I'll have one of my nephews step on them.

Hillary said...

love your presentation. i wish i ever had a class with you and could listen to you speak about things.