Red and Not Dead

Are sumac drupes cast into snow by birds random?P1180110 No. Are rowan berries random?

P1170584No. Are yellow dock seeds cast onto the snow by wind random?

P1180615Are the scales of the bark of a ponderosa pine tree random?

P1170067 Hardly! Are berries fallen to the ground with frost random?

P1360831 Are the stalks of grass random?P1360177 No. Are windblown leaves random?P1360164No. Are willow twigs random?

P1370262No. ln each of the images above, a different colour red is attached to a different intersection between randomness and order. It is the intersection that accounts, because the intersection is alive.

P1330416Is red random?





Snow Images: Mathematics Without Zero

So, the birds come to the local sumac bush, chitter, chitter, cheep cheep, chirp…

P1180116… and do what birds do best (other than the chirping)…

P1180117 The Mathematics of Randomness, by Birds

I dunno. Does this look random?

P1180112 Or this?

P1180110 I think if zero were removed from the mathematical grid, any semblance of randomness would disappear…

P1180121There would be no absence. And it’s not just the sumacs. The same applies with these yellow dock seeds, catching the sun and using its heat to sink themselves through the snow to the warm ground beneath.

P1180614These Ones Were Scattered by Wind

Zero is vastly important in mathematics, for sure, but what if there were an alternate mathematics, that it obscures, one without zero, like this:


It might be that, just like literacy, the invention of zero opened doors but closed others. I remember very well the world before I learned how to read. It was not like the one full of written words. I love written words, but I love that one, too, and I love this:

P1180615I bet men knew how to read this once. I bet young children still do.



The Answer is Blowing in the Sun

Many seeds disperse by riding the wind. Spiders, too. Here’s one of my neighbours that has a different way of moving through the currents of the world. Welcome to yellow dock.

dockIt’s the root that’s yellow.

Dock loves wet areas within dry areas. To get there, it manufactures a kazillion seeds. When the chickadees come in January they nibble a few and the rest fall all over the place, onto the snow.

P1180613Chickadee Meal Mess

And there they are, the dark red seeds, catching the sun on their little sails and using its heat to burrow deep into springtime. Humans and chickadees know it as snow, but dock knows it as the moment when the snow melts and flows to low ground. In the end, the seeds are where they want to be, covered with silt and with all the water they need. In this way, dock is turned into chickadees. In this way chickadees are turned into dock.