gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed Jul 30 22:10:26 PDT 2014
I've been painting my parents house here at Alzheimer's Acres, where more than mental abilities are drifting by the way. Alzheimer's is an unfortunate breeze that only blows in one direction - away from your shore. As a caretaker one has to learn to "go with the flow" without actually drifting away yourself. Kind of tricky.
Port Townsend can be a breezy place, and the last few days have been particularly so, with calm mornings turning to all-day winds. The quiet calm brilliant mid-summer days are pretty quiet birdwise, but nice surprises are happening, like 7 Red-breasted Nuthatches yakking away in the locust tree early today.
As the breeze picks up, relatively few flyers are about in the yard, but the few are stand-outs: hummingbirds zipping where they will, not to be blown about; European Paper Wasps, a strong flying insect with a work-ethic unaffected by wind apparently; and big Darner Dragonflies, those paragons of self-directed flight. There's a lot to be said for the initiative shown by these creatures.
There are other ways to achieve success however. How about drifting?
As I was painting the base of the North wall yesterday I thrashed through some tall gone-to -seed Foxglove plants and was reminded about why this introduced plant is often so abundant here in wetside Washington - it's seeds are nearly as fine as dust, and as I moving about in the WNW breeze, I was inadvertently sowing hundreds of Foxgloves as I painted. That's multi-tasking I can live with.
Then, as I was crouched near the ground, the wind blew a big showy Salsify seed into the siding right in front of my eyes. Salsify is a composite flower with a seed head like a sumo-sized dandelion - each of the seeds are attached to a feathery structure like an inside-out umbrella, well designed to be dispersed by the wind. This fine bit of plant architecture reminded me of a Crinoid. Just sayin'.
What is a Crinoid, you might be wondering. Well a Crinoid is a marine animal, actually an Echinoderm (like a starfish, urchin, or sea cucumber) that, like a lot of marine invertebrates, looks more like some sort of plant, than an animal. Some types look remarkably similar to the little Salsify seeding structure in form: feathery appendages radiating out from a basal 'stem'. In these parts, they are largely a creature of the deep waters.You'll need more than hip waders to see one.
While these completely unrelated species ( well, they are carbon-based lifeforms, just like Tweeters ) are not even in the same Kingdoms, they have evolved similar forms to utilize a similar physical phenomenon- catching a current in this case.
The feathery form of the Salsify seed is formed to catch a breeze - hopefully blowing to a spot that will satisfy a Salsify - where it can put down roots and start to create solar panels (leaves), like most plants do for energy.
While the seed uses the wind currents to move to a new locale, the much larger Crinoid - particularly the sessile stemmed types that look like the above seed - is set in one place, and all of its feathery appendages catch what the ocean current brings - food in the form of Plankton, who are real drifting professionals themselves.
So, see, drifting can be utilized successfully - it's not necessarily just being lazy. Drifting is not for total control freaks - you have to let go a little to make it work - you know, like, have a little faith. If you get my drift.
Jeff Gibsoncatching a breeze, inPort Townsend Wa
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