the genus name aquilegia comes from the Latin “aquilegus” meaning water-drawing or water-collecting. the common name “columbine” comes from the latin for “dove”, due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together. in america, columbine will never more simply be a delicate springtime wildflower. it will the be the symbol for a period of darkness, that none of us knows how long will last.
hiding in plain sight
“Down in the shady woodland where fern-fronds are uncurled, A host of green umbrellas are swiftly now unfurled. Do they shelter fairy people from sudden pelting showers? Or are the leaves but sunshades to shield the waxen flowers?” (Minnie Curtis Wait -1901).
we have some new neighbors. a mating pair of sandhill cranes has moved into our cattails. and it looks like they plan to stay the summer. we are thrilled. we sit on the deck every night to watch them forage for the their last snack before nightfall. we call it crave tv, as in steve: “hey hon, what do you want to do tonight?”, me: “watch crane tv”. last night, our puggle jack decided to give chase to a red squirrel–a summer pastime of his. his quick movement and loud bark startled the female crane, and as she took flight to move down the yard away from him, she dropped this wing feather. it’s hard to get scale without another object to compare it to: this feather goes from the tips of my fingers to my elbow, and the shaft is the diameter of a pencil. it’s flexible yet stiff. self-healing. precise. in a word: perfect(ed).
sandhill crane wing feather (Antigone canadensis)
the “language of flowers”
in the “language of flowers”, the lily of the valley signifies the return of happiness. i didn’t know about the language of flowers until today. steve told me that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is loaded with it. so, i turned to my favorite source, wiki. here’s what i learned. i think it’s pretty interesting:
Floriography (language of flowers) is a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers…Interest in floriography soared in Victorian England and in the United States during the 19th century. Gifts of blooms, plants, and specific floral arrangements were used to send a coded message to the recipient, allowing the sender to express feelings which could not be spoken aloud in Victorian society. Armed with floral dictionaries, Victorians often exchanged small “talking bouquets”, called nosegays or tussie-mussies, which could be worn or carried as a fashion accessory.
lily of the valley
i truly feel that every trick any artist has ever tried has already been done to perfection in nature–whether it be playing with scale, playing with symmetry, playing with color, or, as in this case, playing with repetition. repetition seems to be one of mother nature’s favorite tricks. i feel as if she is a software engineer playing with code…”let’s try this simple branching algorithm, and then repeat it infinitely and see what happens”. “oh, that’s pretty good.” “okay, what if we added a little random variable noise?”. “hmm. even more interesting. let’s let it run for a million years and then see what we get.” it’s all been tried. there are no new ideas. just those we homo sapiens have not yet decoded.
interrupted fern leaflets