Monday, June 25, 2012

On Grass

I spent not a little bit of time trying to work through the vegetative characteristics of a small, stunted sprig of grass found on an overgrazed dolomite glade last week. Most of the Missouri flora keys require a flowering stalk, which this one lacked. I gave up after going through books and through half of the cabinets in the Herbarium today. After having seen the previous surveyor's sampling pages from 2003 that listed one single "unknown grass," I figured this one must be it.

 If I'm at my wit's end with a durned species, if my Quality Control Officers (both out of town this week) can't tell me what it is, I'll send it to the state's best botanist for help. I hate bothering him with stupid questions, of course, I really do, but I hate even more to have incomplete data sheets or a less than 99% accuracy for analysis purposes. I'm not trained in botany by a long stretch (which surely must be obvious), but I'm a quick study...sometimes. I think I have a mental block with the vegetative characteristics of the genus Bromus. Anyway, I'm grateful that Justin, Missouri's best botanist, is not an arrogant prig but is instead a stellar cat, awesome guy, great teacher, he's among my very short list of "favorite people ever." Anyway, I'll be able to record that durned stinkin' grass if the scan comes out well enough for him, my 'unknown grass' is a placeholder in sharp mechanical pencil marks in three quadrats on my sampling pages. I was sampling a really basic dolomite glade, not a crazy rich woodland with all those Panicums et alia et alii, and there's only a finite number of species it could be (so it's frustrating that I don't know it). Anyway.

I'm not obsessing too much over it on this First Monday of Wimbledon when my much researched bracket was turned into a red-streaked mess. Unlike the French Open, I actually researched the Wimbledon draws this year to find out which players were grass specialists, which younger (1st grand slam tournament) players won Wimbledon Juniors' titles and so forth. Visit Wikipedia (which I normally despise because of all the crazy misinformation on the Roman poets) and type in any tennis player's name and you can see his or her record, whether he/she is good on grass, clay, hard court, carpet. (Wikipedia is so silly sometimes, even mentioning which tennis player dated whomever and irrelevant nonsense like that.) While researching my bracket I learned  there are many more clay specialists than I would imagine by watching the French Open, ahem, where many players take their hard court games to clay for some reason. Fewer grass specialists, even, and most of them are British or Russian. Sharapova (classy grass specialist, of course- I picked her to win the tournament) has a long road ahead of her at Wimbledon, actually.

Question 1: What happened to Berdych today? I had him advancing pretty far, having seen him play at a lot of tournaments in recent months. Was Gulbis injured and is now coming back? Gah, Berdych looked great earlier this year. Today was sad.
Question 2: More of a comment: Venus should retire, I guess, being knocked out in the first round of her favored surface, and knocked out in the first round of French and so forth.
Question 3: How did Sloane Stephens learn to play a grass court match? She grew up on the Eastern seaboard (US) but I didn't think we had a lot of grass courts anywhere in America. They require a lot of maintenance, even more than clay courts (too few in America, by the way). She must have grown up fancy to learn to play a grass court game. She looked good. I hope she's playing in the Olympics this year.

Anyway, here are the links to my brackets if you want to see how pitifully I'm faring:
Men's   Women's 
Tennis is such a fantastic distraction from the frustration of daily toil. Sampling, tennis, sampling, tennis, yes I should just retire at 39 and do this for a while if I can finally learn all those vegetative characteristics of tricky grasses.

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