Wednesday, July 07, 2010

And then my heart with pleasure fills...

No, wait! It's not all green outside my window. At least not in the foreground.

Daubs of color. Wild red roses. The white flowers of bramble. Purple-jeweled heather. Soon, yes, soon, the raging orange wildfire of montbretia.

I think of those endless waves of yellow rape we saw on our walk across England last year. The sun-dappled woods carpeted with bluebells.

Green may be the canvas, but on it natural selection has painted a work of pointillist genius. Dabs of pigment. Every color of the rainbow.

For hundreds of millions of years, green had the planet all to itself. For hundreds of millions of years, plants relied almost exclusively upon wind and water to unite male and female germs. Then, about 100 million years ago, in the Cretaceous -- not so long ago on the geological time scale -- angiosperms allied themselves with insects. Here's the deal. I'll supply you with nectar, you carry my pollen from plant to plant. A win-win situation.

Any good commercial undertaking will thrive on advertising. So plants advertised. Colored blossoms shouting "Here I am!" Scents too, perfuming the air with seductive gradients. "Over here! Over here!"

Fossils tell the story: Suddenly, magnolias are blooming among cone-bearing pines. Flowering sassafras among the ferns. Bright-hued additions to a world of green.

Like fur and feathers, the idea of flowers seems obvious once we have it, but who could have imagined it before the fact? Who can imagine a world without them?