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Obsession

One of the most basic dichotomies in life may be between those things that we understand why we engage in and those that we do not. Further dissolution of this distinction leads to things we may understand but that many others do not. This is called obsession.

My most obvious obsession has always been plants. At 15 I knew all the signs of various micronutrient deficiencies. At 19 I was soaking in the thousands of plant species at one of the largest nurseries and plant collections in the country; at 26, managing another. By the time I was looking back at three decades of learning numerous dichotomies (from dichotomy key to divorce) it began to dawn on me that this one was not going away. I tested myself: climb the highest mountain in North Vietnam during a 50 year cold snap, collect and clean the seeds in various SE Asian hotels and navigate the USDA to import the resulting new introductions to the US. Check. Regularly drive for 18 hours a weekend exploring the most botanically rich areas of Western North America. Check. Attempt dating conversations about Trillium nomenclature. Check. This was no green thumb, this was green up to the elbows. But what to do with it? What use, this obsession? Starting a specialty nursery seemed too dicey; taxonomists are a dying breed. I needed a conduit.

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