ACT Reading OG Test 3 - Passage III

Questions 21-30 are based on the following passage.

HUMANITIES: This passage is adapted from the essay "My Life with a Field Guide" by Diana Kappel-Smith (©2002 by Phi Beta Kappa Society).

I was seventeen when it started. My family was on
vacation, and one day we went on a nature walk led by
a young man a few years older than I. Probably I
wanted to get his attention-I'm sure I did-so I
5 pointed to a flower and asked, "What's that?"
"Hmmm? Oh, just an aster," he said.
Was there a hint of a sniff as he turned away?
There was! It was just an aster and I was just a total
10 And I remember the aster. Its rays were a brilliant
purple, its core a dense coin of yellow velvet. It focused
light as a crystal will. It faced the sun; it was the sun's
Later that day, a book with a green cover lay on
15 the arm of a chair under an apple tree. It was the same
volume that our guide had carried as he marched us
through the woods. The book had been left there, by
itself. It was a thing of power. In the thin summer
shadow of the tree, quivering, like a veil, the book was
20 revealed, and I reached for it. A FIELD GUIDE TO
cover said. Its backside was ruled like a measuring
tape, its inside was full of drawings of flowers. By the
end of that week I had my own copy. I have it still.
25 Over the next several years this field guide would
become my closest companion, a slice of worldview, as
indispensable as eyes or hands. I didn't arrive at this
intimacy right away, however. This wasn't going to be
an easy affair for either of us.
30 I'll give you an example of how it went. After I'd
owned the Peterson's for about a week, I went on a hike
with some friends up a little mountain, taking the book
along. Halfway up the mountain, there by the trailside
was a yellow flower, a nice opportunity to take my new
35 guide for a test drive. "Go on ahead!" I said to my
hiking companions, "I'll be a minute ... " Famous last
I had already figured out the business of the
book's colored tabs. I turned in an authoritative way to
40 the Yellow part and began to flip through. By the time
the last of my friends had disappeared up the trail,
I'd arrived at a page where things looked right. Five
petals? Yes. Pinnate leaves? Whatever. Buttercup?
There are, amazingly, eleven buttercups. Who would
45 have thought? However hard I tried to make it so, my
item was not one of them. Next page. Aha! this looked
more like it. Bushy cinquefoil? Nope, leaves not quiiite
right, are they? As the gnats descended, I noticed that
there were six more pages ahead, each packed with
50 five-petaled yellow flowers-St. Johnsworts, loose-
strifes, puccoons
Why I persisted in carrying it around and consult­-
ing its crowded pages at every opportunity, I have no
idea. The book was stubborn; well, I was stubborn, too;
55 that was part of it. And I had no choice, really, not if I
wanted to get in. A landscape may be handsome in the
aggregate, but this book led to the particulars, and
that's what I wanted. A less complete guide would have
been easier to start with, but more frustrating in the
60 end. A more complete book would have been impossi­-
ble for me to use. So I persisted in wrestling with the
Peterson's, and thus by slow degrees the crowd of plant
stuff in the world became composed of individuals.
As it did, the book changed: its cover was stained by
65 water and snack food, the spine grew invitingly lax, and
some of the margins sprouted cryptic annotations.
By the time the next summer came, I had fully dis­-
covered the joy of the hunt, and every new species had
its trophy of data-name and place and date-to be
70 jotted down. If I'd found a flower before, I was happy
to see it again. I often addressed it with enthusiasm: Hi
there, Solidago hispida! I discovered early on that a
plant's Latin name is a name of power by which the
plant can be uniquely identified among different spoken
75 tongues, across continents, and through time. The
genus name lashes it firmly to its closest kin, while its
species name describes a personal attribute-rubrum
meaning red, officinale meaning medicinal, odoratus
meaning smelly, and so on. It all makes such delightful
80 sense!
My friend Julie and I identified individual plants
in our rambles, but from the particulars we began to
know wholes. Bogs held one community, montane
forests held ah.other, and the plants they held in
85 common were clues to intricate dramas of climate
change and continental drift. So from plant communi­-
ties it followed that the grand schemes of things, when
they came our way, arrived rooted in real place and per­-
sonal experience: quaternary geology, biogeography,
90 evolutionary biology all lay on the road that we had
begun to travel

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