BOTANICALS

Inside even the littlest of seeds we find the structure of an entire galaxy, writ with rules, order, and intention, waiting to grow. Not all seeds will do so, however. Most will simply decompose.

Inside even the littlest of seeds we find the structure of an entire galaxy, writ with rules, order, and intention, waiting to grow. Not all seeds will do so, however. Most will simply decompose.

Consider: seeds fall into your hand like irrelevancies. To the eye they're hardly remarkable, some hardly larger than grains of dust, of sand. They ask for little. Many simply bump across muddy, cruddy, cracked ground; dismissed, abandoned, discarded, forgotten.

One finds a thin seam and ever-so-precariously catches hold. It bakes in the light of day. It constricts in the cold of night. Moisture condenses, soaks through the microscopic outer husk, sinks in.

Seeds split, shoots dare to poke their way out. Fast as they can they consume the stored fuel inside their little traveling containers and reach for sunlight, for water, for air. The lucky ones catch a break and grow.

Wide ranges of morphology offer endless variation, yet simultaneously narrow, nuanced differences separate exquisite beauty from stupendously ugly. At one extreme, flower blossoms unfurl like supermodels, like exhibitionists with daring, even risky sexual confidence. At another extreme the creeping, shadowed mosses clinging to slippery surfaces hide and slowly eke out one day after another.

Flower blossoms are comparatively few relative to the masses of merely green, woody stemmed shoots and branches beneath them, but the power of their enviable allure skews our perception of their number. Flowers pull our attention because we desire to emulate, to learn from them, to be like them. That's why it's vital to remember that oak trees are botanicals, too. They're not beautiful, at least not in the classically definable sense. But in the roughness of their outer trunks, the stark, angular vectors of their branching arms and fingers, a resolute nobility and confidence of a different sort shines. The light may not be as intense, but the shadows they cast can be long and rich and deep. Where flowers radiate and inspire for days or even just hours, oaks and their arboreal kin persist with graceful, formidable resolve. Whether it's confidence that supplies endurance or simply stalwart perspicacity philosophers can debate.

Then there are the masses of underbrush, the vast majority of biomass. All around us we find the reedy, spindly, fat, gnarled, languid, torpid, tangled plants, with names perhaps catalogued in obscure scientific databases, but otherwise anonymous to the common majority. They wind around each other, they reproduce, they compete ferociously for soil and light, they reach up and unfurl.

In the great clamor of movement, from flower blossom's curvy, confident enticements to resolved tree's endurance and stability to the great teeming throng of leaves and vines churning for a sliver of Earth, we suddenly recall that we've forgotten where they all began.

Almost all of them, humble or huge, elegant, exotic, erotic, extreme, egregious, erroneous, efficient, or otherwise, began as a seed.

And to think: we almost dismissed it, carried humbly on the wind before it amounted to anything.

@michaelstarobin

facebook.com/1auglobalmedia

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Subscribe in a reader