A rather long time ago, I wrote an article about the ancientness of flowers. It was long before I began to write my stories for you or we even knew each other. It was long before I came to live in this wondrous place of old-world gardens carved out of nature-saturated surroundings. But what I still remember most from researching and writing that article was the image of the earth carpeted and canopied in blossoms of color and fragrance and beauty – ages before there were any people to appreciate it. It was well before there were many of today’s species of animals (most of the very first flowers had to contend with being trampled on or eaten by dinosaurs).
And, quite intriguingly, the very first flowers existed on earth before there were any bees. Back then, beetles did most of the tracking and traipsing of pollen from flower to flower, petal to petal. Sometimes, it was carried on primeval winds and rains, the moist breath of a universe still sighing itself fully awake.
This imagery came slowly back to me the other day during my morning walk with Quincy the dog – came blinking out from the dark and crumb-filled corner of my mind that seems to store such bits and pieces.
I had stopped to touch a petal of a magnificent buttercream magnolia blossom, and my hands came away from the intimate encounter covered in yellow pollen. And I suddenly felt wonderfully involved – if woefully misplaced – in the natural order of things.
My immediate reaction was to look for another blossom where I could deposit the pollen – rather like a dusty love note I suppose, a sort of message from Mother Nature claiming “life will go on.” I have no idea if my human hand might have already disrupted its properties and interfered with its purpose. I’m sorry if it did. But I hated to just waste it – just brush it away or wash it down a drain. So I gently transferred it from my hands onto the next great gnarly magnolia tree I passed. I chose a fresh new bloom with a welcoming look to it, and wished it well.
As we continued to walk, all this carrying around and caring about soft yellow flower pollen somehow began to segue into a new perspective of how we humans carry forward all we touch and do in life – and how we pass it along to others. Even through the slightest brush with us, it can adhere to another’s heart and life experience. Hopefully, in pollen-like example, we enrich those we encounter, enable them to be what they are meant to be.
Further along, I began to consider the relative randomness of the pollen carriers themselves. Bees in particular (who evolved into this role with remarkable talent and professionalism) don’t seem to reserve their door-to-door pick-ups and deliveries for just a few nearby blooms. I suspect they wipe their feet on as many different petals as possible. Perhaps the sensations with each new flower are like fresh adventures for them. Perhaps the scents are slightly different, the feel beneath their wings changing one to the next and the next, the vibrations playing out different tunes. Or perhaps the warmth of the pollen on the backs of their legs in the sun emits a variety of flower-specific temperatures.
I suspect we humans are typically much less egalitarian in our encounters, with the distribution of our gifts – visiting only flowers of old acquaintance, familiar and secure. But what if we chose randomness? What if we brought ourselves to new places, new people, new environments, new engagements, making stops we’ve never made before? What if those gifts began a whole new cycle of relationship? Delivered with unplanned opportunity – like pollen on the backs of bees and the breath of wind – what might the possibilities become?
Turning the corner for home, I looked down and noticed that Quincy had soft yellow pollen all across his shoulders and the top of his head. Random possibilities, indeed.