What Plants (and Rocks) Know

Mustard knows you can fill space with lines. No leaves needed. Nothing grows through this tangle. What you lose in leaf surface, you gain in airflow, which prevents some of the rusts that bedevil these guys.

Sumac knows you don’t have to catch all light at once. Two or three layers catch almost all of it.

Hawthorns know that you don’t need brightly-coloured fruit to attract birds. You can have brightly-coloured leaves, which throw the fruit into contrast. The birds find it that way. So do. you. Having thorns also keeps deer away while you wait for the leaves to ripen.

Saskatoon and mock orange know that you don’t need a lot of colour in your blossoms, just something to catch your eye. When you’re within range, the scent will draw you in closer.

Flowers know that you have to give bees a place to land, and it had better be round, so they can dance on it.

Rock, on the other hand, knows how to catch water, catch heat, release minerals, and collect and move soil.

Perhaps, though, the word “know” doesn’t sit right. In it’s place, I suggest the verb “to be”, for they are these processes. It is easy to take that as a passive act, as in “The rock below just IS, eh.”

Yet, we can define “being” for humans as “awareness of ourselves.” Those selves are entangled with the worlds around us, of which, when we are aware we are mindful. We hold these connections to remember where we are, which is to say “who we are”. There’s a big difference there, but only of individuality. A rock is a being as well, and minds or concentrates its connections, just as much as people do, but as a rock not as a human. Similarly, the apricots below do a fine job of being apricots, with all of their connections. Note the earwig holes on a couple of them.

Note as well that this tree is here because I tasted this fruit on a tree far away, took a twig home and grafted it here. Was that my intent, or the apricot’s? Both, together, I think. This planet is alive. She is an active presence. Her beings are not resources to be used by intelligence. They are, in the broadest sense, intelligence.

Categories: Gaia

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