White flowers

pear blossoms

Cold rain and fog on Friday, just as the Keiffer pear was coming into bloom. To my mind, blossoming fruit trees are always a little garish in the full light of sun; they look best in fog or moonlight. Then we can make believe that the blossoms are purely ornamental, that they have no connection with insect-assisted sex acts. We can pretend that they are faces full of mystery, however much they drip.

bumblebee on daffodils

But our willful blindness is nothing compared to the pure ignorance of their faithful servants the hymenoptera. Saturday dawned clear but chilly, and it took this bumblebee half the morning to climb out of the white cup where it had spent the night and scale the daffodil’s warmer backside. Only the slight pulsing of its abdomen gave any indication that the bee was, in fact, readying its thoracic engine for takeoff. Bumblebees are uniquely gifted in being able to “warm up and keep warm while making no sounds whatsoever and while keeping their wings perfectly motionless,” according to Bernd Heinrich in his classic Bumblebee Economics.

rue anemone

Yesterday, like today, was windy, and down in the hollow the few small wasps and bee flies visiting the bank of rue anemones had to fight to stay on the flowers. I marveled as I always do that insects find such delicate things worth bothering about, when they could be visiting cornucopian sugar daddies like the pear tree. This is a flower so self-effacing that it scarcely seems to possess an identity of its own, bearing instead the names of two other plants to which it bears a superficial resemblance, meadow rue (for the leaves) and the genus anemone, also known as windflower. But something tells me that the nectar offered by such a blossom must make up in quality what it lacks in quantity — perhaps that sweetness one finds in the most captivating of faces, tempered by just a dash of acid. Enough to remind you that it has ideas of its own.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

7 Comments


  1. I always said you were a great closer. I love the last two sentences.

    But you got the ball with a ten-run lead. I love being informed and entertained at the same time. The top photo is just marvelous. Thanks for listening to Teju’s request for more B&W.

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  2. thanks as always for the verbal images
    Is that what reading coffee over blogs is? silently warming up the mental engines before take off? My camera is charged, I’m outa here.

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  3. Really nice, great balance, as Peter said, between entertainment and information. Loved the last thing about the flower and the face.
    But gardens at night are full of insect assisted sex acts, surely, with moths etc? More so later in the year I suppose.

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  4. Peter – Glad you liked it. Actually, I almost regard this as a weakness of mine, that I am so dependent on strong closers for the effect of my writing. I would like to write more poems, especially, that get away from that.

    Cady May – Very glad to hear that this blog goes well with coffee (shade grown, I hope)!

    Lucy – Thanks. You’re right, of course; it’s just that they’re easier to ignore — and sphynx moths, for example, like the hummingbirds they resemble, seem somehow a lot more poetic than bees, wasps and flies.

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  5. I like most flowers bettwe in the florescent (hmm) colors they show under a cloudy sky….

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  6. Nice segue between observations of Keiffer pear flowers and the modest rue anemone; the latter plant’s leaves always look very 2-dimensional to me, as if they are stamped from sheets of bulk leaf.

    Reply

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