Professionally an environmental analyst, I'm strictly an amateur nature observer. I've been so since early childhood, growing up in the 50's. I've come under the spell of reptiles, birds, all insects - especially currently moths - fungi, wildflowers, sea shells and other marine creatures – really, anything that moves or lives crossing my path that I can set out to identify. (I find myself torn in all directions and sometimes envy those focused individuals who can happily concentrate on just crane flies or study just chipmunks or Death Adders for 46 years).
If asked – What is your favorite (moth, beetle, snake , fungi, bird) my response is on the order of, "the one I'm on my way now to putting a name to". One of my earliest nature memories, living in southeast Pennsylvania, was finding a tattered battered large butterfly shortly after the remnants of a hurricane passing through (Hazel, I believe). It was iridescent blue and large, unlike anything in my primary resource Insects Golden Guide. I realized even at around age 7 it was something Tropical!!!, but was haunted a long time by exactly What?. It wasn't till decades later that I came to realize it must have been a Morpho blown up from the tropics. But – eternal frustration - I'll never know exactly which one!
And it has become easier today to make more progress on "putting a name to" with the profusion of good field guides on many subjects, websites, Internet connections, and of course digital photography with the ease of taking totals of thousands of photos and enough of photos of one creature till one is bound to get a decent one. Of course it takes time searching all resources, and one must prioritize to relegate time away from less important things like family, work, paying bills, home maintenance, community so one can get down to what really matters.
We're wired to ask "What is it?", or give things names. In the second Genesis creation story (ch. 2, v 19-20), the very first specific task God gave to Adam was not – cleaning up his room, buying or selling mutual funds, or even building a church – but to "name the creatures". As individuals today we may not get a chance to newly name any creature (alas there probably will never be an eckertii) but discovering what others have named them and discovered about them is one of the most gratifying of all activities. But so little time and so many critters!! - as a fellow lep-ster put it when he declared he will certainly eventually "die leaving behind a pile of unidentified moths".
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