Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bugs with brains

Morning is outdoor-time for me. If the temperature is at least 20° above zero, and it isn’t raining or snowing, Teddy and I will usually hike up the ridge behind the house, or around the fields below. I walk, Teddy, being a dog, chases and digs, but never comes up with anything he wants. After breakfast, when it is not raining and the temperature is at least above freezing, I workout on the small deck off our bedroom. The sun hits it about nine o’clock, and I look forward to the half-hour or so I spend both for the exercises and the exposure to the natural world.

The woods come up close to the house, and now and then, if I’m out at the right time, I will see one of the flocks of wild turkeys making their way down the slope, headed for the fields and the river beyond. Occasionally deer will wander past, maybe a hundred feet away, headed for their morning browse and drink. Always there are hawks to watch, finches to hear, and chipmunks to amuse as they move like wind-up toys across the open space between house and wood. And there are insects. Bugs. Flies and moths and butterflies and bees and hornets, out in their endless search for food. There are always lessons to be learned.

In the late spring we put the cushions on the few pieces of furniture on the bedroom deck: a chair, a glider and a chaise longue. The upholstery is a now-faded pattern of realistically depicted leaves and vines and flowers. The last few days, standing there stretching or bending or lifting (and repeating), I have become aware of a behavior pattern I’ve not noticed before: small bees and even some flies land on the parts of the cushions most in the sun. Not just anywhere, but right on the blossoms depicted on the fabric. I think that even though the colors have faded over the years, the eye-brain pathway of the fly or bee must recognize the shape and perhaps even the color of flowers. I’m not very knowledgeable about flower names, but I recognize the ones depicted because they are very realistically done, and I suspect the same is true for the insect: it looks real enough to warrant exploration. Of course, when there is no nectar, no tactile sensation of a leaf or flower, the wings move and the bodies lift and off the visitors go. But they keep coming back, hoping I guess, that things will change, and happiness will replace disappointment if they just return often enough. They are seeing what they want to see, hoping for the best without doing anything positive to make it happen.
Rather like some people, don’t you think?

Make a better world, don’t just expect it.

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