I suppose it’s time to stop calling this by the default My Blog that WordPress gave it. To be honest though, it’s a pretty descriptive name – it’s a blog, it’s mine…what more do you want?
I suppose some sense of the place might help. But what do I really want to do here? What’s my vision for this site? And how do you encapsulate it in a single phrase? OK, well, I can’t. Well…what about something clever? Something catchy? Something profound? Sounds great – now all I need is skill in coming up with clever, catchy names. If I could do that, wouldn’t I be making lots of money in marketing?
OK then – how about a reference to something that’s kinda cool and somewhat descriptive? Something with a distinctly Trini flavour. But what? I’m sure there are dozens of ‘river lime’ blogs and ‘rum shop’ blogs. “A Mayaro state of mind” would be nice. But it’s probably been done already. And, more importantly, I’m not shooting the breeze in Mayaro, and I’m not in that sort of a state. I don’t want peace with the universe, I want intellectual engagement. With a sense of what is Trini and botanically inclined, nature inclined.
And then I realised what I was looking for. The samaan tree – Samanea saman. For starters, it’s a really attractive tree with its open, spreading crown. Its long, almost horizontal branches are excellent hosts for epiphytes. The campus of the University of the West Indies in St. Augustine (Trinidad) was dotted with them when I was an undergrad, and (weather permitting) the grass under a samaan tree was a good place to sit and talk, sit and contemplate the world. With the added bonus of random small insects falling out of the tree above you.
The first meeting of the group that was to become the Association for Tropical Biology (and Conservation, in recent years) had their initial meeting in Trinidad, and it was the samaan tree outside the Sir Frank Stockdale Building on the UWI campus that has graced the cover of their journal, Biotropica, ever since.
Although not a native species, there is something very Trinidadian about the samaan tree. In many ways it speaks to an older, less industrialised time when people understood that trees mattered. It has a personal connection, in memories of my undergrad days at UWI. And it is connected with one of the pillars of Neotropical biology – the journal Biotropica.
So it is with that in mind that I have renamed this blog. Too pompous and self-indulgent? Maybe. But so be it.