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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Subtle Transformations that We Seldom Notice

Everyone notices how cute a baby is.

Everyone can see how much more mature an adolescent appears.

But how did the transformation come about? What were all the awkward little stages? If you read all my blog posts and articles about Bow and look at all the pictures, you can see it happen gradually. But usually when a child grows, we do not notice.

 The same applies to flowers and fruit. Everybody notices the pretty cherry blossoms.

And who could fail to note when the cherries are ripe?

But how did they get that way? Lately I have been noticing some of the intermediate awkward moments, like a green cherry emerging from a pink flower cap.

The flowers on the cherry trees in my yard start out as white. But as they age, they become pink. Then the green fruit emerges, capped with a pink tuft.

Only later does the pink tuft disappear, and you see bunches of the green fruit, waiting to ripen.

Other awkward transformations are taking place all around me. For instance, the redbud blossoms have sprouted little miniature swords.

Those tiny, dagger-like protrusions will eventually become the well known seed pods. And guess what the dogwood is up to? Its blossoms -- the real ones -- have opened.

Remember that I mentioned the dogwood is a drupe? This means the four white petals are nothing but bracts, and the real action happens inside those little globe-like green things in the center. Those are the real flowers, and their tiny stamens and pistils are now open for business.

It has taken me a long time to notice some of these things. It has been twelve years since Bow was a baby and that's how long it took for me to get to the point of noticing when the little true blossoms inside the big false blossoms really open!

Yesterday I encountered another rabbit.

It was a pretty fast runner, so I was not able to observe any subtle details. It might take me another twelve years before I notice anything truly significant about rabbits. By then, Bow will be twenty-four.


  1. I do not think we are meant to notice everything right away, and the beauty of life is discovering new things. To me, anyway, I am excited when I see something new, and I love hearing about your new botany discoveries.

    1. Thanks, Julia. I think you are right. Beauty unfolds before us in its own time.

  2. I look back at my son's photos too and wonder how did he grow up so fast? I love exploring our property daily - it seems that if we miss a day of exploring there were huge changes taking place out there. Nature sometimes moves fast, other times at a glacial pace.

    1. Maybe nature moves at a uniform speed, but our perceptions shift with time. The younger we are, the longer a day seems to last. It's indexed to the percentage of our life lived so far that a day represents.