Communicating

MimosaPudica2by Anniel3/27/15
For the past few weeks I have felt the need to stand back, take a deep, cleansing breath and find some refreshment for my soul. Make of it what you will.

There are studies out recently about whether dogs actually “remember,” whether plants can be “trained,” whether trees communicate and whether some trees are really “communities” rather than single entities. I had played around with the idea that maybe man is not the only communicating being on the planet. The following stories are true, not even all the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

The Plant

Once on a far away island called “Oahu”, my husband, Bear, discovered Sensitive plants, Mimosa pudica. The name pudica, is from Latin and means “shy, bashful or shrinking.” The plant is also called the Sleepy plant, or the Touch-Me-Not. In some ways the plants resemble a large type of fern, and they grow best in the shade of other tropical plants. When the compound leaves of the Sensitive Plant are touched or brushed against, they quickly fold inward from the tip up to the branch and then the whole branch may droop. The process is endlessly fascinating to watch.

Bear, being Bear, decided he would grow some of these plants at home in Alaska. Obtaining seeds and instructions he soon had about six or seven of the seedlings up. He pinched them back, as instructed, and set up lamps to give extra light in the winter months, watered and fed them, all, again, as instructed.

At the end of about six months he had managed to grow one little stem with two split leaves at the top. The two leaves would obediently fold up, but the plant was not the green and luxuriant item he was looking for. He continued to stubbornly nurture that plant. The stem finally reached a height of about 24 inches, always with the two little fern-like leaves at the top. Bear would try cutting the whole plant back, then out would pop the obligatory two leaves at the top and the stem grew tall again. Man against plant, and the plant was definitely winning.

One spring, about two years into the battle, thinking to help the plant thrive, I suggested Bear take its pot outside and put it in a shady spot around some other plants. He did so, leaving the care of the Mimosa pudica to natural rainfall and long daylight hours. When I knew we were getting close to freezing I brought the plant inside and placed it on the kitchen table. There it stood in all its glory, two little fronds at the top of one tall stem. Bear came into the kitchen and stood beside me as we both stared at it in dismay.

WARNING, I SWEAR THAT THE FOLLOWING SCENE OF EXTREME AND GRAPHIC VIOLENCE ACTUALLY TOOK PLACE. I SAW IT WITH MY OWN EYES.

Bear looked at the plant and very emphatically said, “I AM GOING TO MURDER THAT PLANT!”

He never once touched the plant, but instantaneously the two leaves at the top folded up and then the plant very carefully laid itself down on the table and died. I saw it with my very own eyes.

We now speak gently to our plants and play classical music for them.

All these many years later I just read what I wrote to Bear and asked if he still felt guilty. “Yup,” he said, “I still do.”

Note: A researcher has done a study using mimosa pudica in unbreakable pots where she dropped the plants a short distance onto a hard surface on a regular basis. The first days of dropping made the plants leaves retract, but after awhile the plants stopped being alarmed and the leaves remained open. At the end of her study she said, “Isn’t this learning?”

The Dog

Have you ever wondered how much memory dogs have? Scientists claim dogs have no “real” memories but only conditioning. Do they get angry, full of angst and carry grudges? Or are they just the happy idiots cats think they are?

Our youngest son, David, and his family were living in Phoenix and got a dog for their young daughter. She was a 2 year old black lab-golden retriever mix they named Leah, and she was one of the best kid dogs in the world, but she quickly became almost exclusively David’s dog. She adored him. A year after David and and his wife got Leah they faced a move to Seattle and felt they could not keep the dog. Bear and I decided to fly down and bring the dog home with us. After five years here she still babysits the grand kids with love and zeal, even protecting the babies from their older siblings by wrapping her own body around the baby to ward off perceived danger.

She loves snow, running and snorkeling through it with delight and trying to catch snowballs in her mouth. We have decided she was made for snow country and would have been miserable in Phoenix, even if she never knew what she was missing. Every so often David would ask about her and wondered if she would remember him. I thought she would maybe have some vague memories, but not many.

About three years ago our children decided we needed to have a Family Reunion before our eldest son moved to Germany. David’s wife came up with their two kids first and the dog didn’t seem to remember her or the older girl. She was only only mildly interested in them, liking the baby better.

Then David got here. I heard the car arrive and looked at the dog just as David made one small sound outside. Leah heard his voice, instantly stood up stiff legged, the hair up and down her spine stood straight up on end and she began gnashing her teeth, swearing in dog language, and growling. She dashed down the stairs snarling and barking as David came through the door. She tried to keep him out and wouldn’t let him touch her. She followed him up the stairs and continued her tirade, letting him know how mad she was and that she blamed him for sending her away. There was no doubt why she was upset. David sat on the couch trying to soothe and pet her. She yelped and cussed him out for almost half an hour before she got it out of her system and then, when she was finished, she went over and spent the next half-hour licking him and letting him know she had forgiven him.

Yes, animals do get angry and remember those who abandon them. The studies that say they don’t remember are nuts.

The Frog

Bear came in one summer about twelve years ago with the tiniest Alaskan tree frog in the palm of his hand. It was only about an inch long and the cutest thing. The children promptly christened him “Moses”, saying he had been found in the bulrushes. They dug out an old aquarium, lined it with moss and bracken, put in a dish of water big enough for the frog to submerge in, and caught bugs for him to eat. Bear finally had to supplement his food by buying tubes of live crickets. The crickets sometimes got big enough to jump out of the terrarium and would crawl under the heaters and chirp, so the kids had to screen the top of the terrarium. Moses sometimes croaked but the crickets made more noise than he did.

I got up early one morning, turned the radio on, and sat down to read. A Mormon Tabernacle Choir program of some sort came on, when suddenly I heard strange singing coming from somewhere else, singing like I had never heard before. Totally at a loss I sorted through all the sounds in the room. The Choir stopped singing, and so did the other. Then a new number started, and after a few seconds there came the other singing again. I was baffled until Bear came into the room and we finally traced the singing to Moses. His singing was joyous and happy.

He would only sing with the choir so we bought a Tabernacle Choir CD to keep his joy going. He sang as long as he lived.

We share our world with a myriad of strange and wonderful creations: animals, trees and plants, oceans, streams, the sun, moon and stars. The Lord has set them all here for our care and amazement, for our food and for our raiment. They are not to be worshipped in place of God, but to declare His glory and handiwork to us. • (1701 views)

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28 Responses to Communicating

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Well, there are plant tropisms of various sorts (which is why certain flowers turn toward the sun), and it would be possible for one to involve sound levels. As for animals, there are differing opinions. For example, there apparently are many today who think parrots really understand at least some of what they repeat (of course, there are many jokes based on that assumption).

    One interesting pet story I read in The Week a year or two back involved a cat who was accidentally left behind by its Russian owners on a vacation a thousand miles or so from their home. They were naturally saddened — but the cat somehow made it back home a month or two later (naturally rather bedraggled).

    We had an interesting pet adventure ourselves in 1960, traveling from Monterey to Louisville. We were in the St. Louis area (on some sort of bypass, as I recall), and I was sick at the time. After we’d stopped once for me to take care of matters, someone noticed that our dog wasn’t with us. My mother immediately started to turn around (with unfortunate consequences when someone tried to pass the car behind us, which has stopped, and hit our car). Eventually one of us made it back there in the car of a bystander, and there was our dog waiting to be picked up. (One can easily think of a large number of ways for that little adventure to go far worse than it did.)

  2. Annie, thanks for the stories — very illustrative of what all of us who have loved and cared for our plants and animals have observed — that there is far more going on in this world than digestion and photosynthesis.

    Our little poodle is careful, when she needs to go out during the night, to bark in a whisper — she is somehow reluctant to actually wake us. How can she understand that?

    One year my husband arrived at his print shop to find a golden retriever tied to the back door. He brought her home, set her in my lap, and she buried her nose under my arm and cried — not like a dog, but sobbingly, like a child. I’d had no idea dogs could do that. We had been trying to go dogless, but that ended that.

    We all have those stories. I have no idea what species those blind scientists are studying, but their results are questionable at best.

    • Anniel says:

      Deanna – I have been hearing that golden retriever sobbing under your arm. What a wonderful gift was left for you, but how sad for the person who abandoned a beautiful animal.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I had no idea dogs could do that either. But it sounds as if one did. A remarkable story.

  3. Anniel says:

    While I was considering the number of animals who have shared our lives, I remembered our very first black lab/golden retriever mix, named Hershey. Friends were moving and asked us to take the dog. We wanted a dog to walk with and protect our youngest daughter and Hershey seemed nice enough. The first time Bronwyn and I took Hershey for a walk she stayed between us for several blocks and then suddenly pulled out in front of us and turned sideways to stop our movement. Every move of ours she blocked for several minutes. Finally we heard noise in the woods next to us and a huge moose walked out about 3 feet in front of us. Hershey never barked, just silently guarded us until the moose passed by. Then she heeled and let us continue our walk. I never worried much about our daughter’s wanderings after that.

  4. James Smith says:

    My family and I have been adopted by a cat. She just showed up one day and started living on our front porch. She hates being inside the house. I have gotten her inside a few times but as soon as I close the door she reverts to panic mode and starts tearing around trying to find a way outside. When we bought the house there was a pet door in the back porch door. When she found that door she went outside but she will not use it to come and stay inside. We live in Southern California so the weather is mostly nice however we did have one night this year that was pretty nippy and low and behold when we opened the front door she came inside and stayed the rest of the night under the dining room table. We have started putting out food and water for her but she only eats it once in a while. She kills vermin all over the neighborhood, brings it home and after eating her fill leaves the carcasses in a certain spot in my backyard. There is usually not much left so it is easy to clean up. We used to have a problem with rats nesting in the neighbors trees. You knew they were there when you would see them crossing the street on the electrical wires. I even had one come in the house and hide in a kitchen cabinet. I taped a plastic bag around the cabinet door and used a stick to drive it into the bag. That was the day he met his maker. My wife did not appreciate having to scrub all those dishes. Since the cat arrived I have never seen another rat. However a few weeks ago I came home from dropping my kids off at school and there was a whole dead mouse laying on the welcome mat at my front door. The cat was sound asleep in her bed nearby. I am pretty sure that mouse was a gift I never thought much of cats but this one has a family that will love her forever.

    • Anniel says:

      I think I’ve met that cat. We get an influx of little shrews every autumn and they wind up in the garage. When we see the cat at the interior garage door staring at it and twitching her tail we put her in there, listen to her kind of sing for a few minutes and then she scratches the door, we open it and she walks in with her “gift.”

      For some reason rats do not survive in Anchorage. They do in Seward, Fairbanks and other places, but not here. Occasionally one will be found near the port. But no one has been able to explain why they don’t survive here. I’ve wondered if someone could figure it out, maybe they’d become millionaires.

    • Rosalys says:

      My cats have always been indoor/outdoor cats, meaning that they could come in or go out as they wish, as long as the staff is available to do their bidding. The current politically correct thinking on the proper care of cats is to not let them outside. We do have coyotes (coy-dogs, really) out back, and I used to worry a little about our current cat, but she’s pretty savvy and there are lots of places to get under cover if need be. Besides, she loves it outside! She’s a mighty huntress and keeps my vegetable plot free of small vermin – I don’t have any of the problems that my brother has in his cat-free garden! When the warm weather comes she will be outside almost continually and only come in to eat. Mice and voles she leaves as presents for us, but the rabbits she eats. She does my dirty work for me!

      • Timothy Lane says:

        We had one cat who did some free wandering that occasionally included leaving us such presents, but on one occasion he got in a catfight probably over a cat in heat which required some repair work and may have given him a long-term disease. Later he got trapped (we think) somewhere and went missing for a few days — and was very thirsty when he finally got back. A few days later he was dead, theoretically of a long-term disease.

        After that, we leashed the cats when we let them out, though the leashes were very long, enabling them to wander enough of either the front or back lawn. (One cat, Shadow, was very friendly, and people who passed by appreciated this when she was on the front lawn. This may have helped getting her returned when she was able to slip away. Unfortunately, eventually someone stole her one might when she was out.)

        Sadly, we currently have no pets. It’s getting difficult both to afford them (especially vet fees, what with all the needed shots) and to manage them physically.

        • Rosalys says:

          Try a fish! Our daughter has had a beta for over six years (very long lived for his kind.) His name is Joey Noodles and believe it or not he has a very strong personality! She has had friends take care of him while she goes away and they all tell the same story of how he will stare at and intimidate them into giving him food. Betas are cheap to buy and cheap to keep. All you need is a little goldfish bowl.

          African singing frogs don’t require or cost much to maintain.

          If you want to get a little more elaborate try a small aquarium set up. Watching fish swimming around is very relaxing.

  5. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    There is something special and pure about a boy and his dog. Old Yeller was just one depiction of this.

    My parents did not particularly like animals, but let us have a menagerie around the house.

  6. GHG says:

    OK – I’ll add my favorite dog story. We lived in northern Wisconsin when I was a kid and we had a Collie/German Shepherd mix that looked pretty much like Lassie but with more of the shorter squared off snout of a Shepherd. His name was Bingo. We lived in the country literally right in the middle of the north woods, and Bingo had the run of the place. We lived on a chain of lakes and Bingo loved the water. He was just a good ole fashion dog for young boys to grow up with. One winter my dad got a snowmobile from somewhere and taught my brother and me how to drive it. We used to take it out on the snow covered frozen lake where you could really open is up – it was lots of fun. Well, one day my dad gave me permission to take it out so out I went with Bingo running along side of me. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to notice that with the weather warming up the lake ice had started to thaw and there was open water on one end of the lake – the end of the lake I was heading straight for. I’m crusing along and all of a sudden I hear Bingo barking and he’s running right in front of me so close that I have to slow down and swerve to the left to avoid hitting him. But he doesn’t stop angling himself in front of me until I had made a complete left turn and finally stopped wondering what had gotten into Bingo. I looked back and Bingo was just sitting there looking at me. That’s when I noticed the open water that was directly in the path I had been traveling. Now Bingo was sitting between me and the open water with his tongue hanging out and panting for oxygen after having just outraced a snowmobile in the snow. I’ll never know if I would have seen the open water in time to avoid breaking through the thinning ice but I do know that Bingo saved me from finding out. A boy’s best friend indeed.

  7. Anniel says:

    Our kids always had a menangerie, mostly because their dad encouraged them to. Dogs, cats, frogs, aquariums full of fish, and the boys all worked at a science center when they were teenagers. They tended King Crabs, fed salmon fry and all kinds of marine life. Now not only do kids not think that kind of thing is “cool,” they don’t want to do any kind of work at all. A spoiled generation coming up.

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    We should be cautious before we over-anthropomorphize, particularly about plants. I only half believe what I’m going to write. But I do half believe.

    I was at the garden section of a big home improvement store last night. I was looking for a sage plant as recommended by Mrs. Kung. (And I’ll have to ask her how to use it…dried or fresh…chopped or whole leaves…how many leaves?).

    As well as having an eye out for things to grow to add to my salads and soups, I have an eye out for a few things to put on the greenhouse shelves near the front door of the business to beautify it. I’m not into the big bushy, flowering things such as azaleas, although they have their place. It’s the elegance of the understated flower, the singular flower such as the tulip that I find most beautiful.

    So I spotted one amongst a last-leavings tub of somewhat battered tulips. This one was sticking up a good eight inches above the others. It had two large, bright red flowers, nearly-fully-formed but tightly closed. Well, I thought, I don’t really need any more tulips. I’d better just go home with what I already have and not go crazy.

    I got up this morning and stopped by the same store again (which is close to my place) looking for some plastic potting pots. And then I got to thinking about that singular tulip (the double-flowered tulip) that I had pondered last night and had come close to buying, but not just quite. What the hell. Can a person have too many tulips? And it was just sitting there all by its lonesome begging to be bought before it sagged back into discount-rack-grade flowers like the three or four other brown-leaved ones near it.

    So I bought it. I stuck it in my car this morning at about 9:00 am and drove the short (10 minutes) distance to work to do a little more gardening, including planting what I had bought the previous day, including the sage plant.

    The tulip when it entered my car was tightly closed. It had the look of not quite being mature enough to have opened even once. When I got to the office and went to take it out, both flowers were gloriously open to the full, smiling out, seemingly saying “Thank you for adopting us.” I mean, geez. The thought of the disposition of the flowers immediately crossed my mind, no doubt my fertile imagination fruited even more by reading Annie’s account of the Mimosa pudica “sensitive” plant.

    I doubt that her sensitive plant succumbed to angry words. We humans tend to anthropomorphize things, for better or for worse. We read much into things that are likely just happenstance. And I’m not one normally given over to raging superstition of the kind. But I swear those tulips, on the short trip from the garden center to my office, had a remarkable change of attitude to the cheerful.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      There are such things as coincidences. But, sometimes, you wonder . . .

    • Anniel says:

      Brad: If Bear had just told me the story of the sensitive plant I probably would have thought he was reading too much into it, but I saw it for myself so, yes, I became a believer. I’m not a greeny or Eco-freak of any sort, but I believe plants know more than we give them credit for. May your beautiful rescued tulips thrive for a long time. And Moses sang, too.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        I know what you mean, Annie.

        These kinds of stories are cute. They’re whimsical, but flirting on the edge of some possible deeper meaning. Certainly it is entirely un-scientific not to ascribe clear emotions and behaviors to animals that look very familiar and make sense inside a certain context. Some dogs are just dogs. Not dumb, but not particularly sociable or amenable to being read like a book. But we had an English springer spaniel once. And you could read him like a book. He was quite intelligent for that breed. You could see guilt, joy, deceit, and a whole range of emotions and behaviors.

        This dog was everyone’s friend, and it was before leash laws and before people became so fussy about such things. The dog would wander around. We can only guess what some of his days consisted of. But one day I was out riding my bike with a friend. We were a couple miles away from our house and I ran across our dog. And right off the bat, he acted guilty with his head and tail down, like he was in deep trouble, even though my initial reaction was that I was glad to see him. He wasn’t missing or anything. He never missed a meal. But he also seemed to have a wide social network of friends. We eventually learned some of of the people he would frequent who were nice to him, and likely fed him some treats.

        But seeing that instant behavior of guilt even though, as far as I was concerned, he wasn’t in trouble, was amusing. He certainly knew he was guilty of wandering. This was surely the doggy/master equivalent of cheating, if you know what I mean. He certainly thought so.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I was looking for a sage plant as recommended by Mrs. Kung. (And I’ll have to ask her how to use it…dried or fresh…chopped or whole leaves…how many leaves?).

      Generally speaking, dried is better. For a small pot (sauce pan) of soup perhaps a quarter teaspoon of chopped sage would be a good place to start. See how you like it and season from there.

      As to your tulips, I suspect positive energy is felt by all sorts of living things. Your Chi was picked up by the tulips.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Okay, thanks. Let me know if you just oven dry them or just leave them in the sun.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          We do both, but I think it is best to leave them in the sun by a window. We have a garbage bag full of dried oregano which we just let dry in our kitchen. My wife will use is as she needs it. Some of it she ties in small bunches sort of like a nosegay, which she can shake and rub over soup or whatever else she is cooking.

  9. We do have to remember, as we interact with all of God’s creation, that He has a great deal of control over both the flora and fauna, so, Brad, it may not have been the tulip who was smiling. 🙂

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Deana, it did occur to me, especially with the backdrop with my somewhat intensive studies of I.D., materialism, and the biology of the cell, that if reductionism is false as a way to best understand the universe (it is false) then some (get ready for a ten-dollar new-age word) kind of “holistic” approach — being careful to tip-toe past the pseudo-science and wishful thinking — could be the way to tentatively understand such things.

      The book I just finished was rather big on the idea that the entire universe was designed with higher life forms (people) in mind. And I’ve read various interesting articles lately (take a look at this one and this one) that bolster this point of view (or show the problematic metaphysics/philosophy of reductionism). That first link is about trees. No trees (to smelt metals which leads to technology), no modern technology. There are apparently a whole lot of things that had to happen to make a habitat for humans possible, including a hi-tech culture. Everyone should read that first link about the trees. A truly great article by Michael Denton.

      So indeed there could be a natural sympathy between life forms (some life forms…many are probably too busy trying to eat each other to send out good vibes) on some level. They ostensibly share the same designer, and many of the same sub-systems no matter how far apart they are on kladistic charts. There is more in heaven and earth that are dreamt of in our philosophy, etc.

      And the good news is, I can probably have a more intelligent and meaningful conversation with a tulip than I can a liberal. So there is that.

  10. Brad — great closing line! LOL. Have you seen Guillermo Gonzales’ movie “The Privileged Plant?” It deals with the anthropic factor quite well. The longer I live the more I realize that I need to rethink almost all of my original assumptions. I’ll look at those links — Michael Denton is pretty impressive. d

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, Deana. I think I have seen “The Privileged Planet.” And I think it was on YouTube. There’s also an excellent chapter in the book, A Meaningful World — Chapter 6: “A Cosmic Home Designed for Discovery” — which I think is an excellent condensation of the concepts. I may yet read the book, “The Privileged Planet,” but after reading that chapter, there may be no need to.

      I think both that video and the authors of “A Meaningful World” make the solid point that our world is not the insignificant place that materialists say it is. I’m fully on board with that. The reason SETI has not found any signals yet of intelligent life yet is very likely because there aren’t that many planets capable of sustaining higher forms of life. And if one believes (as I do) that no natural process can account for the creation of life, then any search for ET represents a search in the Designers garden for where he may have planted things completely at his own discretion.

      The one quibble I have with the whole “privileged planet” concept is that our data set in terms of making any kind of determination of how many planets are habitable by life is so small. We can rightly deduce that habitable planets are rare but given the truly gargantuan size of the universe, “rare” is quite a relative term.

      One of the interesting, even daring, concepts in “A Meaningful World” is that the authors credibly, and without going over the top theologically, paint a picture of not just design happening in terms of life, but creative genius. This, I think, is a difficult concept to come to terms with — both for theists and those on the fence — because we’re now talking about a Designer who is quite tangible and has left a record. And as they say about any sport or profession wherein one actually has to do stuff and make decisions, one will leave the realm of complete idealism and one will accumulate a record.

      Now, of course, those on the Darwinian side, as noted by many others, constantly judge their own theories in terms of “But a omnipotent God would never make something like that.” We’ve seen junk DNA crash and burn. We’ve seen the supposed flaws of the engineering of the eye crash and burn. But, to be fair, lots and lots of genetic mistakes happen. Even for a God, if you are doing things in “the real world” (and who would doubt that there is at least that?), there are consequences to actions, there are the advent of random possibilities, perfection is not likely an option, and when you enter the world of the material, you leave the world of the completely ordered and ideal.

      So, in judging the Designer we can scratch our head at some of the imperfections and marvel at the millions of instances of genius. One presumably can’t be produced without the other. And that is probably the message to take from this. Indeed, the author of that book notes how the concept of a Designer is always critiqued against an ideal world. An “ideal” world may or may not be possible, but we certainly have *a* world. I think the authors of that book put a lot of things into sane perspective, particular in refutation of what I consider to be a lot of hyperbolic philosophy from materialists.

  11. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Continuing with the story of Brad and the herbs…

    My obsession with tulips continues. And I now have a total of seven 4-shelf greenhouse units outside my door on which to house them and other acquisitions. But there are six tulip pots now. How many bulbs those six pots represent, I do not know, for each pot has at least a couple bulbs. But the tulips in total represent at least 4 colors and one mix: red, yellow, orange, purple, and yellow with red tips.

    The orange one continues to have a wonderful orange Pixie Sticks smell just like candy. The red one, oddly enough, smells like a newly-opened can of latex house paint. It’s not a bad smell. But that’s the smell. The purple ones — and the attribution of the smell was first done by my ten-year-old nephew — smells like rubber balloons. The yellow/red one has only a very faint, but pleasant smell, along the lines of a rose. One of the red ones has no smell at all. And the newly-acquired yellow one (more about that) isn’t open yet.

    But the orange Pixie Stix tulips take the prize for fragrance. If you open the greenhouse enclosure on them, out puffs a very strong and pleasant smell that has been saved up. Nothing subtle about it.

    And the current tulip quest rests less on a Dutch-like mania for the wonderful bulbs and one more on the impulse to take in lost puppies. Last weekend I found a pathetic little yellow tulip — short and squat and certainly malnourished — in the discount bin for $1.00. Well, whether the tulip sent out psychic beams to my brain saying “Help me!” or I just read that into it I couldn’t not take this one home and rescue it.

    And I found another just today. It was no bargain at $3.00 but what it lacked in discount-rack pricing it made up for by being truly mangled, battered, and stunted. I just freshly potted it, watered it, and set it in the relative warmth amongst its brother and sister full-grown tulips for company and encouragement.

  12. Our last house had a yard full of orange parrot tulips — one spring I counted 1,000 blooms — and they smelled just like Dr. Pepper. Odd how the aroma is connected to the color. They say that Helen Keller could tell the color of a bloom by its smell.

    I have read “A Meaningful World.” It’s a wonderful book — I wish I’d had science teachers who understood those principles; I might have grown up loving science.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I should have bet you would have gotten to that book before I did. 😉 You’ve certainly given me more than your share of book references.

      One thousand blooms of tulips is at least having an Amsterdam moment. That would be something to see. I have a neighbor who has a 3′ x 10′ brick flower bed in front of her house. She does little but weed the garden bed every year and out pops a glorious display of a variety of tulips. Perhaps tulips provide a lesson for us. We may think ourselves as the gardeners and cultivators, but tulips need so little help from us.

      I grew up ambivalent to science. No offense to present company, but there’s little your standard public school can do to induce a love of much of anything but recess and maybe shop class. There are exceptions. I had a splendid teacher in high school who made Shakespeare the most wonderful subject. Never would have read any of that stuff myself.

      The only “science” of any relevance to me was the space program. Oh, we certainly learned all kinds of scientific facts in public schools. But they were dead facts. And I don’t mean that the alternative edification program should be nothing but a never-ending series of road trips outside the classroom. Every kid looks forward to those because he knows it means not having to do any work.

      Whatever science I learned in the public schools (and in college) was dead beyond saving by means of even a few field trips. And with so much of science these days corrupted by materialist/Leftist ideology, my love can have a difficult time growing even now. Everything these days is corrupted by the Left. There is no subject under the sun that isn’t effected by the communist need to take into heavy account political considerations with factual considerations being secondary.

      “A Meaningful World” is revolutionary in the sense that it is “back to the future,” back to what people had always believed about the world, that it was designed and created. A major premise of the book is that genius and creativity predate any utilitarian concerns, and certainly leave the meaningless and self-contradictory metaphysics of reductionism/materialism far behind.

      To intersect on Mr. Kung’s blog post regarding Blue Jays, I used to look at birds of late and imagine them as the descendants of dinosaurs. After all, that’s what the official scientific word is (and what they said in the movie, “Jurassic Park”). I now know better. Birds not only predate dinosaurs in the fossil record but are a unique system of integrated features unto themselves. A bird is a bird is a bird and isn’t a cow given enough time.

      And so to really appreciate a bird, I have to let fly from my mind any notion of Darwinism. Oh, some sort of evolution is possible. We have no idea the power or the limits that is the program and operating system of cellular/animal unity. We might well imagine one ancestral bird that, via the built-in capabilities of its birdness, evolved into other species. We just don’t know yet. But mutation/natural selection can’t get you to the birdness itself, although it likely can do some sifting of the expression of existing features in concert with the environment.

      So to love a bird, I must have some idea where it came from. If not that, I must at least not have a totally wrong idea about its ancestry, such as the wrong notion that they evolved from dinosaurs. To think so is to do a disservice to both birds and dinosaurs, as well as their true creator, whoever and whatever that is.

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