Just Another Day in Paradise

Form, Pattern, Math and Beauty: Natural Harmonies are everywhere

The pup chased her first (full grown) deer last night. I wish I’d been filming the adventure.

She spotted it on our last trip across the creek to shut the chickens in their coop. From the gravel road she saw it, on full alert and with the characteristic “mohawk” stripe of raised fur two inches wide down the center of her back.

The deer was 300 yards away, but she was determined to cover the distance–except for one tiny detail: the deer could leap over the tall pasture grass. Gandy’s eyes were a good foot below the tops as she sped straight-line towards the fleeing deer. But where did it go?

And so her run was more of a kangaroo hop on her back legs, at least a dozen times in a row, with her head bobbing well above the grass, in order to keep a bead on the much bigger version of the little spotted thing she had discovered hidden in the pasture earlier.

I never saw a dog bounce like that. She’s full of surprises, and not quite 8 months old.

The adult deer got clean away, of course. And Gandy has failed to find her fawn playmate, even though she’s visited the exact same spot where they met several times since.

The image, Forget Me Not. They are back this year, after several years of not reappearing on the little sand bar at our crossing on Nameless Creek. I am especially fond of the flowering arrangement (inflorescence) of this plant, called a “helicoid cyme“: a curled unfurling not unlike the tip of a fern frond, and following the Golden Mean in its unfolding.

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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. Oh, that would have been a thing of beauty and humor to see. Gandy as a kangaroo.

    The Forget Me Nots are so pretty. Your reference to the Golden Mean reminds me of a beautiful video I saw, not too long ago, about the Fibonacci Sequence, by Cristobal Vila. “Nature by Numbers.” And I’ve already done the research, so you’ll find it here.

    Paradise, indeed. 🙂

  2. I also encourage you to read about Fibonacci numbers in nature. I read a slim book years ago on a camping trip, and just sat there saying “Wow, wow” for hours.

  3. I’d love (but be very lucky) to get the kangaroo-hop on video. I’m gonna sort of miss it when the pasture is cut, and we won’t see the grass bounce til it grows tall again by October.