Airbrushing Nature – when chasing our own version of perfection might mean death, or a very unhealthy unsustainable planet, at the least
As I gazed at the images from my last run, deleting blurry ones and repeats, I came close to obliterating the fly that was marring one of the waterlily pictures I had taken. Then I realized the fly was likely pollinating the plant. It looked like a regular black fly-the kind that bites-and maybe it was but I decided to leave it there because, well because here was nature in action. Sure enough, when I looked up Nuphar Lutea or Yellow Pond Lily, bees, flies and beetles were listed as pollinators. Not only that, but the relationship that exists between flies and water lilies purportedly goes back at least sixty million years. Zapping out the fly for aesthetic reasons just didn’t seem right.
Further along the path, the sun drew my eye to a shaft of burgundy on the forest floor and I hunkered down on a rock to get a close-up of striped coral root, an orchid which is apparently common and quite abundant. This beauty is dependent on fungi for carbon and other nutrients. It has neither leaves nor roots yet it flourishes. It too is fertilized by insects, including the parasitic wasp. Fortunately, this wasp does not sting. In fact, it has been very beneficial to people because some species have been used to combat insect infestations in trees. In the image I captured, the insect appears to be a spider-also not a favourite of mine but it is likely playing its own role in the life cycle of the plant.
Overhead, the overwhelming green of leaves obliterated all glimpses of the birds I could hear. This time of year, one has to be talented at song identification because that’s usually all there is to go on. Back when the branches were bare and I was hankering for spring, the only touches of colour came from feathers brightening for breeding season. Now, the canopy sways above me and I remind myself of those days when I longed for signs of new life.
When I started this post, I did not intend it to be about beneficial insects or myco-heterotrophic plants. I thought I would just write about the beauty of the various things that caused me to stop and take pictures.
Instead, I began to question my own capacity for appreciating nonconventional beauty and the lessons to be learned from complexity and relationships that have lasted for centuries.
I will still swat at flies, complain about mosquitoes and long for unobstructed views, though.