A blog focused on nature, science, environmental topics, and happenings at the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC).

A Naif in the Forest by Darrell Berger

Wing Tips to Hiking Boots: Musings of a New, Full-Time Poconos Resident

Violet the Corgi is an avid, if easily distracted fetcher. When she wanders from the task, I fetch the ball. This is not easy, because the tennis ball is the same color as much of the forest.

I started playing tennis during the Kennedy administration, when tennis balls were white. When did they become green, I wondered? In 1972, I discovered, but they did not become green, but yellow. What? 

Yes, the official color of a tennis ball is yellow, though there is an endless controversy, as many people see it as green. The balls turn greenish as they age, and we fetch mostly old ones. 

The photograph shows how similarly colored the tennis ball is to this moss, making tennis ball foraging difficult. That is, if it is moss. It might be a liverwort, a heartwort, a lichen or fungi. It looks like the escarole I left in the refrigerator too long. I’m calling it moss. I’m open to other opinions, almost any of which would be more informed than mine. Hey, I thought tennis balls were green. 

This green or yellow tennis ball, ignored by Violet the Corgi, landed very near this moss or whatever. I mused that this artificial object created solely for the recreation of humans and sometimes dogs, should blend so perfectly with the natural environment. The color for this object, chosen precisely so it would contrast to the background of a tennis court, happens to be the color most ubiquitous in the forest. 

Some differences of opinion can be settled objectively. This moss or whatever has a name, one of which is correct and all others are not. Other differences are of perception. You see a yellow ball and I see green. Upon such differences worlds have been shaken. I propose an alternative. Expand one’s definitions and the names one gives to one’s perceptions. For instance, it is clear that the ball is neither green nor yellow. It is chartreuse.


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