Nebraskaland August 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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62 Nebraskaland • August-September 2019 By Gerry Steinauer, Botanist FINDING THINGS My mom once told me that as a child I must have walked around with my head down because I was always finding things. Most memorably, I found a French coin on the sidewalk in front of the Millard Bank, certainly worth a fortune I thought, and a pocket knife or two. Probably, I just brought home a lot of junk. My oldest brother far outdid me, once finding $600 rolled up in a rubber band at Swimland located west of town. The police speculated that somebody won big on the horses at Aksarben, then lost the wad while lounging on the beach. I like to think that something more sinister was involved. My penchant for searching has continued into adulthood. Fresh out of college and working for the Missouri Department of Conservation, for instance, one morning my boss said, "You can find arrowheads over in that soybean field. It used to be an Indian village." At lunch, I wolfed down my sandwich, hustled across the road and found my first arrowhead. I was hooked, and ever since, whenever walking over bare soil, I keep an eye out for the sheen of flint. Most of my other outdoor pursuits also involve searching. I enjoy hunting for morel mushrooms more than eating them. Nature photography is simply seeking and capturing beauty. I favor pheasant hunting over other types of hunting because I get to walk and look for birds, or in the snow, search for their tracks. Sitting in a morning deer blind and "waiting" makes me edgy – a half hour of that is about all I can take and then I am off stalking. Professionally, as a botanist, I sometimes spend whole days walking through prairie or woodland with my head down searching for specific plants. This innate need to search, and ogle with satisfaction over my finds, I believe goes back to our days as hunters and gatherers when finding fruits, nuts and game was a necessity; those with drive and keen eyes survived the winter. I likely would have been a fat and sassy hunter-gatherer. In our modern world, this primitive urge to search for things can still be advantageous. Case in point, back in 1965, if my brother had invested his newly found $600 with an Omaha company known as Berkshire Hathaway, today he would be worth a cool $11 million. Unfortunately for him, he instead put the money in the bank. THE LAST STOP PHOTO BY GERRY STEINAUER

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