Consider the Lily

IMG_3742turksLilyPodsFlower480Consider the lily, how it grows. It toils not, neither does it spin. And yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these.

Something like that. It comes to mind after a misspent hour becoming anxious, angry and perplexed at the state of the world.

And yet, life goes on. I have to remember that. I should change my early morning habits, and not first thing  check email, follow updates or read the news. I should put off such “spinning” until noon. Remember the lily. Think first on these things, and remember who and where I am. Yes, I’ll do that. Was that just a resolution?

SO here’s my natural world perplexity that centers on the familiar Turk’s Cap lily, Lilium superbum, that blooms in the middle of the summer and whose candelabra seed pods are evident in the late fall when all other green vegetation has died back.

The large orange flowers are distinctly suspended by a pedicel, a stem that hangs the flower upside down. Its  exerted anthers waggle on long filmanents below the recurved speckled petals. I have better images of the flowers but for the life of me cannot find them.  But take a look at a wide assortment of images via Google to see the plant in a better growing habit.

And here’s the deal–a new trick this old dog just observed this year after 15 previous years admiring these lovely wildflowers.

Take a look at the seed pods (much easier to see in a larger image I uploaded to Flickr) that are born UPRIGHT on the pedicel, which makes a sharp 90 degree bend just near the pod itself. See that?

So what this must mean is that after the flower has done its job of attracting hovering pollinators (moths?) and the plant bears fertile seeds, the flower stem twists or bends 180 degrees. The flower faces the ground; the seed pod faces the sky.

Is this right? Are there other flowering plants that do this? And what would be the advantage to holding the seeds upright in the pod vs dropping them directly as the pods mature ready to spread the seeds? Are seeds spread farther from the parent plant by a sway stalk than they would be by dropping into the growth zone of the competing parent?

So you see, there are more immediate, local and curious things to worry about that what the Republicans are going to do to the air we breathe.

Consider the lily, how it grows–from the Sermon on the Mount, just as fitting for the valley of Goose Creek.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Yes indeed, Fred. We are getting to the age to be the wise ones, which to me means focusing on spiritual stuff, like not thinking a lot about things we can’t control We give our minds the impossible task of figuring out how to make the world be the way we can like it, No wonder we are so full of anxiety. Trying to do the impossible is the worst assignment imaginable. A peaceful mind can be a much more productive mind. I am reading a book, The Untethered Soul, that is so down to earth its ideas along these lines are actually sticking and making an impression on me.