|Western sand cherry (Prunus besseyi)|
I.Simon was not happy, and as the boxes, furniture, and odd lots gradually disappeared into the back of the moving van, his unhappiness grew. Change can be a worrisome thing at the best of times. When you're blind, and elderly, and the change is not one of your choosing, and you've been shunted aside into the back yard for the duration, out of harm's way but also away from the reassuring presence of your family, worry can explode into panic. Simon responded in the only way he could, really. He barked. And barked, and barked—piercing cries of desperation. His miniature poodle soprano would have done even a wolf proud as he gave voice to the bone-deep fear of his species, the fear of abandonment and aloneness. Poodle, pointer, or pit bull—all of those shapes and sizes are just different ways of housing the need to belong.
(The last I saw of Simon, he was sitting in the cab of the van in the arms of one of my former neighbors, eagerly sniffing the air through the open window as they all drove out of view.)
|Rio Grande cottonwood (Populus wislizeni)|
For me, at least, blogging is basically a way of dressing up the word "Wow" for company. Whether a tiny event in the garden or a magnificent scene in the wild, something awe-inspiring or beautiful or intriguing or comical, that moment of Wow is what prompts me to pick up camera, paper and pencil, and to look for ways to share the essence of that moment with you all. I may have published 161 posts so far, but at heart they're almost all the same—I've just written the same post in 161 different ways.
It's been a while since I've waxed rhapsodic about stems. As winter moseys along, though, and the flowers stay away, stems and branches and trunks grab your attention—and then you remember just how fascinating they are.
|French marigold (Tagetes patula)|
I was looking up some information on stems the other day, as one does, and was astonished to find out how alike their innards are, no matter what their surface differences, at least across large classes of plants. The striping along a sand cherry branch, the rugged crags of an old cottonwood, the lithe wands of gaura, the nubs on marigold stems in their tidy rows, and the Kool-aid purple of rue in winter—all that variety is just so much window dressing for one essential process: moving nutrients around. The outer portions of the stem or trunk protect the interior, vascular tissue—the xylem, which carries water and minerals upward from the soil, and the phloem, which carries carbohydrates downward from the leaves. The outsides of plants may have scads of different strategies to cope with their environment, to prevent dessication and protect from disease, but at heart they're all remarkably akin. The same processes are at work in the 80-foot tree as in the tender annual.
|Rue (Ruta graveolens)|
All to say—wow.
Thanks, everyone, for the kind and supportive comments and e-mails over the last couple of weeks!