Hiding in Plain Sight

Garter snakes know how to do it.

Just another stick, really.

Mariposa Lily seeds do it.

The stiffness of the stem transfers energy to the open wings of the seed pod when they are knocked, which throws them at a distance. Not a great distance, but enough. Falling in place just would not do. At the same time, no-one is liable to gnaw down there and get them.

Water knows how to do it, too.

Just one deer footstep and you have a garden.

In each case, appearances are deceiving, as an obvious thing is revealed (a stick shape, a dried stalk, and a hole speaking to an unstable hill not worth climbing) and another is hidden behind it (a snake behind the appearance of a stick, a seed-throwing device within a dead stalk, tender seeds behind a veil of dead grass). The cottonwood below hides in plain sight as well.

Darkness at the time of year when there might be competition; full light on the leaves at flowering time. In this way you hide available ground from unwanted companions, while opening it to others which can gather in minimal light or which can grow quickly in the spring. Both of them hide nesting birds, while the cottonwood hides male sentinels, and all the birds at leaf fall.

That’s the trick. Reveal something. Be obvious about it. And open the possibilities for life within the reading errors. Is this not conversation? Or political debate? Is this not messing with our minds? I think we should be careful not to say that human language is the only kind. I think we know this. Mud does.

I think self-awareness, thinking, conversation and intent don’t have to be the same thing. I think that’s really beautiful. Maybe revelation is the consciousness of a sight-biased mammalian predator. Perhaps for others, hiding is consciousness.

Perhaps for them, having options open, and secondary effects, is thought.

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