Lorraine McLoughlin: Naming things

I often forget the names of things, if I ever knew.

Others can tell which little brown bird splashes on the birdbath. To them parrots are not just red or green but carry a proper classification. I delight in birds’ antics, their ruffling feathers and music. I can label some but watching is sheer enchantment even if I can’t always tell them apart or remember precise names.

Friends roll Latin words from their tongues, bringing informed minds to a walk among acacias and eucalypts. I take pleasure in the growth of trees as they bud into perfumed glory. I stroke smooth trunks, enjoy wafting resin as I crunch bark underfoot. Yet even in our own garden many botanical terms for trees we’ve planted evade me. I can’t identify frogs from their croaks either, although revelling in their nightly chorus.

Savouring a cool Riesling on a warm evening I recall summer nights when, as kids, we lay on prickly buffalo lawn craning at stars above. We didn’t have books on constellations and couldn’t name the planets. Our parents didn’t have those words either but exuded wonder as we observed shooting stars and orbiting satellites.

Now my young great-nephews pick up pot-plants to find slaters, earthworms and other wee critters, already knowing what they’re called. Often they’ll also point out stars and planets.

It’s a joy to meet numerous youngsters whose informed families and teachers have gifted them knowledge and accurate terms. I am awed by their fresh enthusiasm about the natural world, how much they know and understand.

My own enjoyment, however, isn’t dimmed by my lack of scientific names. I can get an app of course, or turn to poetry for more words to describe my enjoyment.

Or I can just inhale wonder allowing my five senses their own delighting.

Lorraine McLoughlin is a local author. Read about her work at www.fitzmcl.com