It is simple to answer the question: What do plants see? Have a look at these poplars. Goethe pointed out that the original form of every plant was the leaf, and we say just that, a plant leafs out, and what is leafing but life, right? We might stop here and note that we are just splitting words up into pieces, and so what, there’s a process, and plants undergo it, and there are sprouting leaves. That’s the point. Very true, but without words there wouldn’t be leaves or sprouting or quite these connections between them. After all, a few thousand years ago, the blue of the sky and the white of the trunks below were both labelled as gold, or yellow, or blonde, or, gasp, even black! So, yes, words matter. They change the patterns we see, which in turn changes what is possible in the world. Pretty cool. Beautiful, too.
I’m not saying that plants see that way, but, well, this is still pretty cool. The root word of blonde is “blind,” in the sense of catching one’s attention and at the same time erasing it. You were looking at one thing, and then, wham, the blue-white-gold stole you away. Who you were, in terms of a context in the world, was gone, and the world insisted on you looking at something else. In other words, this old energy includes both a brightness that catches the eye, blinding the will, and a hiding of what was there before, or a bird blind, which erases you and your intent from sight. In this old conception, an eye is the human will, especially when it is applied, which is why we still use the expression “she has a real eye for colour” (and variations). If you blind the eye, which places consciousness out in the world, you blind the will; one is lost. Literally. You are not there. A week later, the poplars look completely different, with their catkins extended and the warming red pigments gone — no longer needed in the increasing warmth of spring.
Whoever you were when you saw them the first time is now blinded. The power of change, of leafing out in life, within the tree is revealed within you, with as little involvement of your “will” as was present in the first time, and yet guiding you. You could say the trees are your will. You yourself lurch from blindness to blindness, with the trees controlling your sight. Our ancestors elaborated on this system for the power a more independent will could bring. And yet the birds still come back to the trees, drawn by the same force, equally blinded by the trees and happy for it.
This process is not conscious, but it is subconscious, and that puts out leaves.