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Spring bares the soul of nature’s diversity

Spring bares the soul of nature’s diversity

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The Great Spring Awakening continues.

I use capital letters because this annual occurrence is always a landmark event — for me and many others.

Not everything awakens at the same time. The woods and fields come to life slowly. Some flowering plants can’t wait to bloom, even if nighttime is still chilly. It’s the same with trees. Pines and cedars, although they never really sleep, start making pollen early in the season.

Pine pollen does not incite allergies as much as other plants, but it coats everything with yellow powder that dew and rain turns into a nasty paste. Cedars do not turn golden at the tips of their branches for show. That’s also pollination at work.

Not every plant is self-pollinating. Most flowering plants have need of assistance. That’s where bees and other insects come in. If you see these critters all over blooming things, it means these plants — whether you stuck them in the ground on purpose or they’re volunteers — are not self-pollinating.

An insect does not have to fly to be a pollinator. A small amount of pollination is managed by crawlers and even mammals that tromp around amongst flowers.

Emerging plants attract wildlife. The tiny wild violets in our yard seem inauspicious, but deer love them. I see the biggest gangs of deer when the violets are blooming. Deer don’t mess with hellebores, however. That’s why you can end up with a field full of Lenten roses from just a few plants.

There were eight deer of all sizes in the side yard a couple of nights ago. And no, I have never seen a big, heavy-antlered buck in my yard. A couple of spikes, yes, but mostly does and fawns.

The most impressive thing about spring, and all of nature for that matter, is diversity. There is no one species of most everything, although plants and insects are by far the most diverse.

We could not get by with just kind of tree. The pine tree is good for fuel, building materials, pine tar, turpentine, mulch, paper-making and other uses. But it can’t generate enough oxygen to enrich the atmosphere on which all living things depend.

Neither can grass — by itself or teamed with pine trees.

So we have an abundance of plant varieties that suck up carbon dioxide and in return give the world enough oxygen to continue living.

It’s nature’s way of providing balance and self-preservation. We humans can tip the scales. We know this to be true. We can maintain natural equilibrium and still push civilization forward, however.

It’s the same general principle with water and dirt. Maybe someday we can have synthetic soil, but probably not fake water and oxygen.

Look at what that phenomenon we call nature has done with our world. It’s miraculous. We humans can pulverize mountains and melt cities into scraps and goo. So we can overpower nature.

But take heart! We don’t have go back to the Stone Age or slow civilization to a crawl. Witness the revolution in the auto industry.

My grandfather used to say there is nothing an internal combustion engine can do that an electric motor can’t do better. The problem in my grandfather’s time (he was born in 1899) was a power source. Today, the fastest street-legal cars in the world I read about are hybrids, with electricity providing the bulk of the go-power.

Airplanes aren’t far behind. See, there? We are smart, and when potential profit is thrown into the mix, we are even more motivated. There are people among us who reject conservation. I cannot figure out if they just don’t get it or they don’t want to be bothered.

I guess it might be a symptom of that mysterious mindset of people who aren’t concerned about a little ol’ pandemic. They don’t care much about a little pollution like the caustic Flint River, the Florida phosphate lake, or the giant plastic garbage islands in the Pacific Ocean.

I’m glad I am witness (and more than willing participant) to the transition from the Analog Age to the Digital Epoch. I admit I might not enjoy woods, meadows, mountains, rivers and seashores nearly as much if not for city parking lots from which I get things I cannot make or grow myself.

But we don’t call the force that powers Earth by the name “Mother Nature” for nothing. We must not forget our respect is necessary, but it’s totally voluntary.

I love spring. I am always thrilled and amazed. I hope spring and all the seasons continue forever. And I hope we can take a hint and apply appreciation of nature’s wisdom of diversity to ourselves. You know what I’m talking about.

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