Tuesday, August 9, 2011

destruction in the name of science; beauty as antidote to tragedy

Part I: Innocuous Preface.
I went out into the woods this afternoon in the fading light and found the following:
Wha’? Are those the petals?! They look like mini-leaves. Maybe it’s already flowered and those are the sepals.
The one above seems to have gone almost to seed (see how it’s bulgy under the petal-like thingys?) so maybe those are indeed sepals. In which case, good luck identifying it. The leaves are so shiny…Here’s the plant as a whole:
Is it vinca on steroids? Hm. I dunno.
Meanwhile, here’s a helleborine (Epipactis helloborine) in shade…
…and going to seed.
I saw a ton of jack-in-the-pulpits as well, a couple of which had gotten lucky in the reproduction game:
See how this plant has been forming its seeds in kind of an uneven way? Some berries never really got going…others are squashed and small, and only one is really booming? This seems to happen here and there across different species. To wit: remember the anemone?
How it’s supposed to happen
Versus how it sometimes happens
Hold that thought. We’re coming back to it in a minute.
Part 2: destruction in the name of science
In the meantime, do you remember the deranged magnolia alien madness from the other day? Thinking possibly a gall was involved, yesterday I snapped off one of the weirdo growths and put it in a jar to see if anyone (midges, perhaps, was the thought) would eventually emerge.
I was advised by the friend of a friend, a bug dude who co-authored a whole book on tracking insects (who knew that was even possible?), to do either that, or to cut it open and see if any larvae were inside.
Today, I saw that there are plenty of others on the tree:
P1130515 P1130514
So I picked another one, and performed surgery on it on the balcony railing with a kitchen knife:
Um. Those look like…seeds. Then I googled “magnolia fruit” images and realized that all these weird things are, are unevenly developed magnolia fruit. I don’t know if I have the terminology right or not, but once I thought over the jack-in-the-pulpit and the anemone, I’m fairly sure that’s what’s going on here.
I wish I hadn’t had to destroy two instances of fruiting activity to reach this conclusion. I normally don’t mess with anything I photograph – this was a rare exception. Sigh.
Part 3: beauty as antidote
In other news, there was a terrible tragedy in Bratt today – a shooting, at the food coop; one employee shot another employee and killed him. I should be correct and say “allegedly”, but apparently the shooter turned himself in to the police, so… Anyway. The coop is one of my personal touchstones around here, and I feel just…sick to my stomach about it. This is why I headed outside as soon as I got home from work this afternoon (that’s correct; “work” – I started a new job today) – I needed to find some beauty as an antidote.
It’s worth being here, right? Right.

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