Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Falling Into the Fund of Things

Sunflowers are impressive entities in summer, when one can watch the statuesque and spirited youngsters turning their brilliant heads to follow the sun around the sky all day long. Young ones are flexible enough to follow the sun, and they do just that - mature flower heads face east toward the rising sun for the most part and do not move.
What we think of as a single sunflower bloom is actually a composite, a collection of over a thousand tiny florets or flowers arranged in a perfect spiraling sequence.  Each floret is inclined toward the next floret by approximately 137.5°,  known in mathematics as the golden angle.  The arrangement creates a series of interconnecting spirals in which the number of left oriented spirals and the number of right oriented spirals are successive Fibonacci numbers.
A fan of golden angles and Fibonacci sequences for years, I am always happy to discover another one and seeing a sunflower in any season is a happy thing. In these short, dark November days, withered specimens of Helianthus annuus are downright wondrous in their delicate earthy coloration, their spikiness and sculptural complexity, their stalwart determination to engender progeny and perpetuate their genetic matter, mothering whole dynasties of mile-high stalks, fuzzy leaves and beaming golden faces when springtime rolls around next time.
In his fine poem, "Enriching the Earth", Wendell Berry describes the earth's late autumn cycling as "slowly falling into the fund of things", and I have deep fondness for the notion.  Going to seed in this last quarter of the year is a good thing, a fine thing, a natural and necessary thing.  Alas, I lack the delicate coloration, complexity and elegance of form displayed by sunflowers peering over the fence and dispersing their abundant seed in November.  If I can be said to resemble anything at all these days, it's a gnarled and twisty old ironwood tree in the forest.  Gorgeous things they are in their own way, and though I have no beauty of my own, I am happy to stand among them out in the leaf strewn wood.
Happy November everyone!


Guy said...

Hi Cate

Happy November to you. I enjoyed your post I always like Berry and the sunflower was quite a nice subject for an autumn photo.


Larry said...

Oh, gosh, another kindred soul! I saw a link to your blog at my good friend Bev Wigney's Journey To The Center.

I like your place -- I'll be back!

CIELO said...

I discovered your blog over the weekend and have been here forever; it seems... you have such a lovely place here, love the serenity and enchantment you create...

ps: I thought I saw a lovely photograph of an owl perch on a branch... was it here? I'd love to see it again, but couldn't find it. Maybe it was on another blog? Woudl you let me know?

Thanks and so nice meeting you


Brian said...

You are quite wrong about possessing no beauty of your own. Everything here mirrors it.

I have fallen hopelessly in love with this blog.