Sunday, January 3, 2010

Floral Emissaries

The raising sun turns the meadow into multicolored blankets of sparkling dewdrops. One flower stretches its petals lazily; it is still too early. She sets the table with a scented tablecloth, arranges bowls brimming with nectar; the anthers full of pollen have burst open exposing their golden dusty treasure and she wonders: Will the visitors come? Sadly, the weather turns bitter and windy and the sun finally refuses altogether to come from behind the clouds; wrong weather for winged visitors.

The next morning the wind is gone; the sun begins to warm the land and melt the dew drops so our flower feels her hopes rise. She is not alone; many others show their charms letting their aroma float in the breeze with the same hope of attracting guests. Better this way, so the callers can carry love messages between them.

The sun keeps climbing and finally a buzzing sound announces the arrival of one of the anxiously awaited visitors. A shiny metallic green bee stops briefly at a nearby blossom and then comes to her. Wisely, she has painted darker lines that point the way to the hidden nectar; thus the guest has no trouble finding it and drinks it avidly and briefly. The cunning flower has prepared just enough nectar to attract a visitor, but not so much that the bee would become satiated and return home without further visits. The guest brushes accidentally against the anthers and some pollen sticks to its hairy body. This is no accident; the flower has placed things just right where she wants them; now her pollen will travel to other flowers.

A parade of winged travelers follows on the next few days. Not all of them are shiny bees, there are others: fuzzy bumblebees, flower flies, a few flashy butterflies and moths and even a beetle.

Finally the pollen is all gone and the anthers begin to wilt. But the flower isn’t done yet because deep inside the ovary, at the very heart of the blossom, sit the future seeds. Now the ovary begins to bulge and its tip at the end of a little tube, the stigma, glistens with a sticky substance meant to receive the pollen from other flowers, the love messages brought unwittingly by the visitors. So the flower keeps inviting guests with its nectar and hoping that they come loaded with other pollens and ready to leave some of their cargo behind. Pretty soon the grains that were left on the stigma will begin to make their way toward the carefully sheltered future seeds. Only now is the flower satisfied of a mission accomplished and only now she allows the colors to fade and the scent to disappear; the petals shrivel and will soon fall to the ground.

Only the ovary remains with its seeds and with all the promises of generations to come. Later on it will become a juicy berry that will attract another kind of visitors, hungry birds and other small animals; they will carry the seeds, adventurous explorers, to farther meadows, to a new life away from the mother plant. But, that is another story.

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© Beatriz Moisset. 2012

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