I turned 40 last year, and “I guess that’s a big deal,” said one of the cards I received. So, this year is one more, forty plus one, or so I had said when the number was thirty instead of forty.
I wasn’t going to write a blog somehow attuned to my birthday this year, or at least nothing had come to mind. Still, happenstance took over via a webinar that shared a name which became a story which drew a circle back around to science started late. One of the dreams I wonder if my life is too short for, each time a birthday comes around, is that of stewardship for acres that will be mine. Disappointed by his own time cut short in that role, my dad involves me in conversations now, in my forties, and even with 25 years to spare on his age of inheritance, the years seem not enough for the knowledge. The wrinkles on my skin will surely win out those I need on my brain to ensure the facts and figures matter.
And yet, in a MANRRS, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, webinar one name holds though the spelling takes me several attempts to locate a Google entry: Ynes Enriquetta Julietta Mexia, Mexican American Botanist and Explorer. She had an interesting life, ups and downs, circles to connect and break. Husbands and inheritance. Feelings of worthless, instability and, sadly so common in womanhood. What must Ynes have thought at the age of 50, another big deal birthday, if in fact 50 had the same meaning in 1920. What then would she have thought one year later, at 51? More of the same. Same circles. Not to be disturbed circles. And yet, what else defines womanhood?
Connection. And, at the age of 51, she realized to what. A language. A countryside. Plants. Other professionals, though she did not finish her natural science and botany degree. And, ironically enough, Extension, a field course in fact that helped her find someone else to compliment her skill set. So, she saw herself in reflected halo of others’ circles. Found the energy to complete the missing arcs in her own. Somehow her story, or my story, doesn’t seem so difficult after all. And, her name, is aptly spelled, beginning with ‘Y’, a question that brings so much more than ‘I’.
Blogs are like birthdays, too, I guess. Sometimes you have a plan for something great, a worthwhile way to fill blank space or minutes. Other times you just get by and the time slips by with the simplest of things, but you still say ‘I’m glad I noticed.’ Ynes certainly noticed, thousands of plants, that others had never seen. She knelt down, knee to earth. Instead, I place a knuckle to tamp the crease of a new page. In many ways, my blogs posts are usually nothing more than resources to save and knowledge to share.
Life is full of circles. Not full circles, mind you, but full of circles, arcs and diameters and curves we connect as we, and they, come around. I suppose in the end, what I like best about both blogs and birthdays, is the fact that they hold you accountable to what’s remembered and dreamed. This week I turned 41, and I have at least ten years head start on Ynes’ start of something new. “She was basically the baddest botanist that ever lived, and a late bloomer to boot.”
Maggs, Sam. (2016) Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors And Trailblazers Who Changed
History. Quirk Books: Philadelphia.
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