To be an ethnobiologist

Now, being an ethnobotanist

     Is not all that different

From being a musician,

      Ballerina or chef:


You’ve got to practice

       Your licks and chops,

Your forms and foot positions

       Your dicing, slicing

And making a roux

        Every day (or else)

You get rusty.


No one I know

        Likes a rusty ethnobotanist

One who is constantly hoping

         To discover some herbal WD-40


So make and take

          Some time each day

To go on out

            And eat the flowers

Drink their nectars

        Chew their roots

Offer them a fresh set

          Of ancient names

And listen to what

          All the elders have to say

Or pray about them.


To be an ethnobotanist means

            That you will let yourself be

Immersed in a world

        Of potent verdant cures

That you will love and care for

          As if your life depended on them.

It does.

 by Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote OEF

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