Search This Blog


Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Bouquet for Bow

As I may have mentioned before, I don't particularly like flowers. I am not a gardener, and I don't have the patience to nurture them or to help them grow. When I write poems, they are not about flowers. When I paint, flowers are not the subject matter -- except in art class once, and that was assigned. But I like flowers when they just appear like magic and grow on their own, and show up unexpectedly to beautify the landscape. As far as flowers are concerned, I am an opportunist.

I think chimpanzees are like that about the bounty of nature, and I see nothing wrong with it. Sometimes life is all about us and what we do and what we make, and sometimes it's about the natural world and all its wonders. I think most chimpanzees are opportunists when it comes to exploiting their habitat. The conservationists are doing us a disservice when they try to paint them as noble savages at one with nature. In order to appreciate nature, we have to look at it through our own eyes and see what it has to offer to us personally.

Most of the flowers I see, I have no names for. Take, for instance, these yellow puffs  that grow on the shrubs or small trees along the fence-line: Last year I did not even recognize them as flowers. But this year I looked close up, and I noticed that they consisted of tiny little individual blossoms clustered together into a ball of fluff.

Some people say that society is everything, and some say that the individual is primary. But it's not really a question of either/or. It depends very much on your point of view, and what you are concerned about at the time. Are you studying the big puffs of fluff or the individual blossoms? What magnification are you using? What is the scale of your canvas?

Weigela buds yesterday

These are budding Weigela blossoms. I learned their name a couple of years ago. When they are in full blossom, they will look like this:

Blooming Weigela from 2013

Each little bloom is just like its sisters, only a little bit different And each will compete for the attention of suitors. They have some interests in common, but they also have competing interests.

In my orchard yesterday, a single bee was found enjoying a pear blossom. While this was going on, the other pear blossoms in the cluster waited patiently for their chance. Would some be overlooked? Could their beauty go to waste? Does every flower get a bee?

Even the smallest flowers underfoot have story to tell, full of drama and conflict and individual differences. When the conservationists speak of balance, they forget that balance implies conflicting forces at play. Just like peace, balance is a fragile equilibrium. You do not achieve it by disarming one side of the conflict.

Open Redbud blooms
The redbud blooms are much more attractive to insects once they have opened. Bow, too, finds them more appealing at this time. Since Bow could not go look at the flowers with me yesterday, I brought him back a bouquet.

I was brought up thinking that it was wrong to pick wildflowers. In Israel, there used to be many anemones -- beautiful red flowers that people picked freely until there were practically none. I was told it is better to just look at wild flowers and appreciate them than to pick them. In Texas, also, I was cautioned not to pick the bluebonnets. This socialization about flowers that I received made me resent the flowers. It was as if the flowers were teases -- coming on strong with their beauty -- but complaining if you touched them. Don't pick the flowers. Don't walk on the grass. Preserve nature!

But what if nature was meant to be sampled? What if beauty was meant to be experienced by all the senses?

What if it is not exploitation but the deepest possible appreciation that makes us want to touch and smell and even taste the blossoms?

If there are too many people and not enough flowers, then to preserve the flowers you have to rein in the people. But no primate actually enjoys feeling less important than a flower. It is better when there are fewer primates and more flowers.

This is my land, so I can decide whether to pick the flowers or not. And that is another reason why territory is more important than labor! In the city, flowers represent human labor and must be paid for in cold cash. But out here in the country flowers  are just a joyful windfall that can be exploited without guilt.


  1. We picked wild flowers as kids, but it was in the forest that our neighbor owned, so he did not mind. However, I know it was discouraged, but always thought it was a bit silly. However, after the fires in the mountains when the forest were cleared in some places, the first things to come back were wild flowers. I do not think it is a big deal to pick a few if I see someone do it.. In the old days people used to go out in the forest and pick wild flowers to make arrangements. I wonder if people say never pick the wild flowers because they would rather have you buy flowers from a florist. I am not saying go crazy and pick every single flower in sight, but I do think it is weird when people make others feel guilty for picking a few wild flowers.

    1. Hi, Julia. I am glad you got to pick wildflowers as a child. I think when I was told not to, it was with the idea in mind: "What if everybody else did, too?" I was taught that one way to see if something was okay to do is to think what would happen to the world if everybody else did the same. In the case of picking wildflowers, the answer really depends on how many other people there are in the area, and how many of them really want to pick the flowers and would have the opportunity to do so. In areas with low population, picking the flowers just for fun, and only a little, does no harm. But in a very populated area, that is different.