Field Research

Well, phooey! I had this blog/note all ready to go, minus pictures. Then I did some research on “Native Trees of Indiana” and my wonderful inspiration had to be edited.

But the more I calm down over my musings having to change, I can only think that this process is exactly what my grandpa taught me one day in third grade.

You may or may not know that I was home-schooled in my early elementary years. For the record, I rather enjoyed it. In those wonderful years, my mother assigned the readings and math problems and directed the daily activities. Sadly, I don’t remember her efforts very much. No, my most memorable day of homeschooling was due to my grandpa. Sorry, Mom.

When I was finishing up my third grade year, my mom and I took a trip to Manhattan, KS, to visit her parents. I don’t remember why we were visiting during a random spring weekend; I just knew that I was a little miffed because I had to take along all my books and workbooks. Being a home-schooler, I didn’t have to get my assignments ahead of time, I just had to find ways to get OUT of doing work while on a trip. If I remember correctly, my efforts were only partially fruitful due to some boredom. It was the end of the year, and I was more or less tying up loose ends with each subject. My mom wasn’t sweating it too much either, because like a good home-schooled kid, I was already leaps and bounds ahead of my grade level.

Not bragging, really.

Grandpa was a retired professor of horticulture. Since my science book was focusing on plants at the time, Mom asked Grandpa to be my science teacher for the day. School work and grandchild bonding, check.

We sat next to each other in his big black reading chair, usually reserved for bed time stories a la A.A. Milne. And I began reading aloud to him about leaves, chlorophyll, and the like. The man whose life was plants and turf grass was being subjected to third grade plant science. God bless him!

Then, there was a picture similar to this:

which my book had identified as a maple leaf.

Stop the presses! Get your coat; we’re going for a walk!

We immediately set on a tour of the property as his backyard was an oasis of trees and shrubbery in the middle of Manhattan. On our short tour of the hundred, er five, acre wood, we stopped specifically at two trees and collected their leaves.

My science book and I were promptly corrected on what was:

and was not:

a maple leaf. I had little knowledge of the Canadian flag at this moment, so I just assumed my science book was correct.

A few weeks ago, outside my apartment, I noticed a beautiful tree turning from green to a glorious red. I stopped to admire the leaves and thought that they were sugar gum trees.

I smiled and took some pictures.

Isn’t it a beautiful tree?

And red carpet?

I found some maples by my teaching studio.

Then, I wrote a beautiful and inspiring note. Just before posting, I decided to nab some pictures from the internet. And suddenly my hopes were crashed as I could not find any native Indiana tree resembling the leaves that made me smile just a few weeks earlier. I quested through the Purdue Extension website, and thought I found something with the Arbor Day Online Field Guide. I went out to the lawn and snagged a few leaves from a tree and noted the bark type. Still no success.


Unlike my science book, I checked my facts. So, while I’m stumped as to what exactly that beautiful red hue is named, I know what it isn’t.

Thanks, Grandpa. In case you were wondering, your legacy is still living and active. Even if I have no clue what that dang tree is called.



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