Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Wisdom of Spines and Flowers

You wonder where they come from...the disparate elements of flowers and spines.

Alarmed queries often precede a visit to the desert. "Aren't you afraid of the snakes?" "What if you're pricked by a cactus?" "Are there scorpions?" All have spines...
The answer is usually a shrug because dangers are often unanticipated. In the initial stages of a journey just the flowers get our attention...and cactus flowers are among the most spectacular of their kind.

The desert is usually quiet except for the hum of bees, which have spines of their own. Flowers thrive, living in tranquility with the spines in a marked harmony of adaptation.

Cactus leaves have evolved into protective, water conserving spines...stems have  adapted as water reservoirs, and the flowers...the flowers attract their particular pollinators to ensure "appropriate" fertilization. 
Except for the occasional javelina or desert tortoise that grabs a bite of prickly pear, spines ensure that cactus flowers survive as the "least molested" of blossoms.
The desert, however, isn't generous to those who won't adapt to its regimen of lean necessity.  Cacti discovered long ago that only occasional water is necessary, that dry terrain and drought are a normal part of the environment, that predators are common, that excesses are rewarded with failure...and in this environment the desert hums along with its bees and flowers and spines in oft hidden tranquility.

It seems to know...if we won't adapt, if we lack an instinct for economy, we'll vanish...and the spines and flowers will look on with indifference.

The flowers will surely be here, but we may not see them.

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