Nine Ways to Lure a Lover, Orchid Style

There is no sunshine today; there is no snow; January 26 in Hamilton is a grey, grey, day!   The sky is grey.  The view of the opposite side of the escarpment is just a grey mass against a lighter grey sky.  The road is grey.  The guard rail along the brow edge, despite the rust patches, is predominantly grey.  The trees, with all their wonderful naked architecture are just a darker grey.  Every spring I marvel at all the different shades of green.  It is much harder to appreciate the limited variety of grey.

But on the bookcase under the window, my orchids are in bloom! Four tall stems laden with multiple blooms… just ordinary phalenopsis, but a wonderful surprise, blooming again after months of dormancy.  An orchid in bloom is amazing; a dormant orchid with its aerial roots and awkward strap-like leaves is just plain ugly.  Every year I wonder whether they will reward my patience by blooming again.  Maybe, I wonder, I should just compost them and buy new plants ready to flower.  Somehow, that seems lazy, ungrateful and impatient.   An article in the Smithsonian explains why there are so many different shapes in orchids. Nine ways to lure a lover, indeed! An interesting anthropomorphic interpretation! Check it out, and then go to Google images and search orchids for more eye candy.

It reminded me of Michael Pollan‘s book about the way plants, with apparent willpower and intelligence, enduce environmental factors, animals, and humans, to assist in their reproduction and territorial spread. And here is Pollan giving a talk on TED.


A Plant’s-Eye View of the World

In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed reciprocal relationships similar to that of honeybees and flowers. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?

So put a bit of sunshine and beauty, as well as some fascinating lore about nature, into this very grey day!


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