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

ignoramus!
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

echo.
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

WILD FLOWERS-PETERSON & McKENNY, its

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

words.
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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Question 21 The passage is best described as being told from the point of view of someone who is