Reflection 305: Wildness 5

August 13, 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Steve Perrin.     [Twelve photos.]

Indian pipes (or Native American pipes) are damp soil come to life. No need for photosynthesis: they get the energy they need from the soil, not the sun. So they have no need for pigments that absorb red and violet rays in sunlight—reflecting green rays to our eyes. Indian pipes reflect all colors of the spectrum equally, so look white. Not powered by sunlight, they can live deep beneath the leaf canopy directly on the accumulating duff of the forest floor. Their loyalty is downward, not up.

These are flowering plants, one blossom per stem, which produce seeds. I can find no mention on the Web of how they are pollinated—or even if they are pollinated. I haven’t seen insects hovering around them. This mystery adds to their wildness. But to me they always look wild every time I see them, which this summer is every day because it’s been so wet.

Here are photos from this July. See if they don’t look wild to you, too.

P1010164-96-IpP1010170-96-Ip P1010375-96-Ip P1010377-96-IpP1010378-96-Ip P1010393-96-IpP1010396-96-IpP1010433-96-IpP1010453-96-Ip P1010606 96-Ip P1010824 96-IpP1010830 96-Ip Cosmologist Brian Swimme is big on gawking before the mysteries of the universe. That’s me when I confront Indian pipes, each time self-appointed gawker-in-chief. That’s what I get for living in my head as I do, facing one wild situation after another, trying to figure out what sort of world I live in, but never getting it right, round after round of engagement. Such is the human predicament. We get into trouble when we think we’ve got things figured out. Particularly once we start telling others how it is, as if we actually knew.

Pride is for all those others—that is the message of Indian pipes. We humans do better on a diet of humility. Getting out of our heads is not possible. If we could get out, we’d be in no world at all. We can’t get out of our heads because that is the price we pay for the smattering of consciousness we are allowed in one lifetime. Gawking is the best we can do, and being grateful for that gift. Consciousness is about learning our limits.

That’s it for now. I remain y’r true brother, –Steve from Planet Earth.


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