P71231The “Poly” in Cal Poly is for “Polytechnic”, as in there are multiple schools within “California Polytechnic State University” at San Luis Obispo. There were seven school when I was there between 1985 and 1990. I was a student of the “School of Agriculture”. “Horticulture” was my “Major”, or major realm of study within this school. Within this major, I selected “Floriculture and Nursery Production” as my “Concentration” of study. That certainly is a lot of quotation marks.

While majoring in horticulture at Cal Poly, I studied with students whose concentrations of study were within “Landscaping” or “Floral Design”. Withing the School of Agriculture, we studied with students who majored in “Crop Science” or “Animal Science” and so on. Like horticulture, each of those other majors was divided into other concentrations.

Then there were all those students of the other six schools, which I will not even get into because I am wearing out the quotation mark key.

In the summer of 1988, while many of my colleagues were going to Australia, New Zealand or South Africa for their internships, I stayed right here in California, and took a job with a Lee’s Tree Surgeons in Saratoga. My colleagues thought that was a bad idea. Not only was that sort of internship for those in the landscaping concentration, but it was for the lowliest among them. They climbed trees and used chain saws and ropes and such. They were primitive. They were barbaric. They were not like us.

As it turned out. I was not like them. Fortunately, they did not mind. They took very good care of me, and trained me as best they could about arboriculture in the three months I was with them. They realized pretty quickly that I was not a good candidate for the job they gave me, but made accommodations for me. Although I was never proficient at climbing, and was not really good for much at all during that summer, I later went back to work for some of them, and eventually became a somewhat proficient groundsman; but that is another story for another time.

In my fourth year at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, after my internship with Lee’s Tree Surgeons, I relocated from my semi-rural home back into town, and lived in a big apartments with three roommates. We made a tradition of watching “Star Trek: the Next Generation” on television. One of the roommates, who is now a very respected professor at Cal Poly, made cornbread for the weekly event. Although I did not continue the tradition after we all graduated and went our separate ways, I did sometimes watch “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” when it came out a few years later. I really need to stop with the quotation marks.

In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, I liked the concept of so many different specie living together in an society in which it was very necessary to make accommodations for those who are different. Everyone needed to respect everyone else. Some even learned to appreciate the differences. Even the bad guys had redeeming and very often likeable traits.

In my career, I am primarily a nurseryman. That means I grow things. Other horticultural professionals might compare my people to the Vulcans. They think that we are too uptight, efficient and plain to be much fun. Factory growers (who work for the big corporate growers) would be more like Romulans, and and therefore less dedicated to what is right and logical if it is to their disadvantage. Some of the better artistic landscape designers are likened to the Bajorans. Unscrupulous maintenance gardeners who will do what they must to make a buck are comparable to the Ferengi. Some of them work for the larger and imperialistic Cardassian landscape corporations.

Arborists are the most excellent of all; or perhaps the second most excellent after Vulcan nurseryman. They are like the Klingons; honorable, noble, independent, passionate and boisterous! I can understand why my colleagues think of them as barbaric and primitive, but I also believe that my colleagues should be more accommodating. When I consider what arborists must have though of me what I did my internship, I realize that it must not have been easy for them to accommodate me. Yet, they did, and in the most excellent way. They still respect that I have my own career in my own world, but to this day, thirty light years later, they are still pleased to invite me to their world.

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4 thoughts on “Arboriculture: Deep Space Nine

  1. Haha! Great post. I love your description of arborists, but while I agree that they are all the things you describe, I also think that many of them (at least the ones I’ve worked with) are a little *wack*–in a good way. Great analogy with plant people and Star Trek characters!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kindred spirits, Sir Tony. I passed my tree surgery license test back in the late 1970s, ended up teaching arboriculture at my university…but you won’t CATCH me with a chain saw and either feet off the ground these days… I stick with a standard curved saw, and both feet on a ladder!
    (and BTW after working for several years on the bottom rungs in retail and wholesale nurseries, and the only “blue eyes” on a landscape crew I, too, went to college majored in Floriculture/Crop Production… but went on to get a M.Ed. and am now a retired Extension Horticulturist (lots of upper case letters there, only mean I can BS with the best of us)…
    Love your candor! Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You, Sir, brought back memories to me from when my Dad attended CalPoly back in the 60’s. He majored in Telecommunications via, at the time MaBell. Through the years he became involved with the Arabian Horse Breeding and the German Shepherd Breeding programs which at that time were funded by the John Wayne Foundation. We met Mr. Wayne and his wonderful wife to which I have numerous memories of. Our horse and dog breeding programs stemmed from those early days. Thank you for reviving old memories.

    Liked by 1 person

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