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To Be an Ethnobotanist

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.


– Gary Paul Nabhan aka Brother Coyote OEF

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