How did you get hooked on fishing? That's the question we ask in a sidebar to Jason Abraham's lead story, "Opening Day." Everybody knows Minnesota is well stocked with anglers: In a given year, about 36 percent of Minnesotans go fishing. And more than 75 percent of Conservation Volunteer readers say they fish, so we hope a lot of you will take the bait and tell us the story of how you got hooked.
Of course, people get hooked on all kinds of outdoor pursuits. We could ask about other passions: How did you get hooked on rock hunting, camping, or ferning? Stories in this issue open the door to such adventures.
In "Roving Boulders" Marc Hequet invites you to wonder about the origin of those big rocks you might have spotted in grassy fields or on riverbanks. Like waylaid travelers, they seem to have rolled in from somewhere else. They range from baseball-sized to monolithic. They fascinate geologists, historians, and landscape designers, among others.
"Let's Go Camping!" offers wilderness veteran Cliff Jacobson's expert advice to young naturalists. Youngsters probably don't need much coaxing to try camping. Grace Lee Nute, another inveterate camper, once wrote: "Most of us get an annual urge to go camping, to pitch our tents on the edges of lakes and streams, preferably under pine trees, to cook over open fires, to catch fish, pick berries and wild fruits, and otherwise live a sort of nomad life."
At least a few folks head for the woods in search of ferns and fern allies, their close relatives. In "A Fondness for Ferns," DNR botanist Janet Boe introduces readers to the pursuit known as ferning. More than 50 years ago, another writer invented a similar term, wildflowering, for a story in another conservation magazine. George Titus compared the terms wildflowering and birding, saying both "indicate an interest in and a knowledge of the subject, but not necessarily the scientific knowledge of the botanist and ornithologist."
The mysterious life of ferns has long captivated people. In medieval times people had a magical explanation for ferns' lack of flowers and seeds: They believed the flowers and seeds were invisible-except for once a year, at dusk on June 24.
Today we know better, but the mysteries of plant life still abound. This May in Florence, Italy, scientists will gather at the first symposium on plant neurobiology. Described as an emerging science, plant neurobiology takes up challenging questions about how plants behave. How, for instance, do plants devise and carry out orders to flower or to produce spores? What does it mean to say that plants communicate with one another and with other species such as insects? What do we know about the social life of plants living in communities? How might plants recognize themselves-be self-conscious?
Science feeds on curiosity. Albert Einstein's father piqued his son's interest in science by showing him a compass. The movement of the north-pointing needle riveted the boy's attention for hours. Einstein said he realized "something deeply hidden had to be behind things."
Even a pleasure as simple as fishing has other depths. Legendary DNR fisheries researcher John Moyle wrote: "A lake is not just water but is an immensely complicated society of plants and animals concerning which there is still much to be learned.
"But the angler need not worry about this. He should enjoy his day of truancy from everyday grind-and not forget to notice that there are birds singing and flowers blooming and that it is really a very pleasant world. If he catches fish, so much the better."
Kathleen Weflen, editor
Thanks to C.B. Koehler's letter in this issue, I looked back at the journal Minnesota Naturalist, published from 1950 to 1985 by the Natural History Society of Minnesota. Quotations of Nute, Titus, and Moyle in this column come from that publication.