May 8, 2007
Kansas retains the official nickname of the Sunflower State, the
apex of summer brings into fruition the more than 2 million acres
of brilliant yellow patchwork throughout the wooded and lake-sprinkled
tri-state area of the upper Midwest. In addition to the annual
commercial growth and production of the whimsical plant known
as helianthus annus, lakeside gardens and shoreline flower beds
are accentuated with these solar signposts; adding to the already
present beauty and aroma of the lake country. All the while, these
simple plants maintain a brilliant charm and an age-old and subtle
mission, invisible to the human eye:
Your standard scientific term for a process that borders on pure
and simple magic. As well, it adds an air of scientific sophistication
to any social gathering when uttered. Translated, the word simply
speaking, floral heliotropism is a nastic response to the Sun,
often seen in the brilliant sunflowers of the Midwest and other
flowering plant species. Movement is observed during the day,
as the flower tracks the course of the Sun across the sky. During
the night, the flowers may assume a random orientation, while
at dawn they turn again towards the east where the Sun rises.
layman terms, facing east at sunrise, the sunflower’s head
follows the sun across the sky to face west at sunset. This heliotropic
movement, called nutation, results from a bending of the stem
toward the sunlight. On a cloudy overcast day, the sunflower remains
facing eastward, awaiting the next clear sunrise. The leaves of
the sunflower are also heliotropic. If they are removed, the sunflower
head would be unable to follow the sun. The sunflower usually
reaches maturity three to four months after the emergence of the
seedling. As the seeds develop, the heads begin to droop with
the added weight and at maturity face nearly downward.
reason why sunflowers face the sun is not completely understood,
but it is possible that the sunflower is more visible to the pollinating
insects when it is brightly lit by the sun. The temperature of
the flower will be a few degrees higher which will cause the developing
embryo to mature more quickly. Most plants will lean towards the
light; this exposes more of the chlorophyll to the sun. Bottom
line, there remains several hypotheses, but none solely conclusive.
love, organically broken down, can be defined as a complex combination
of physiological responses, chemical pheromones and animal instincts
toward self-preservation. But the bottom line remains the same:
there are several hypotheses, but none solely conclusive. It is
at this moment when the magic takes over...
well, Life, chemically broken down at its origin, is defined as
23 pairs of chromosomes in a never-ending DNA-laden organic waltz.
The potential combinations for different human beings at this
point? Literally millions of possible combinations. And the bottom
line remains: there are several hypotheses as to the very moment
how and why a single Life begins, but none solely conclusive.
It is at this moment, again, when the magic takes over...
is known that the very dust in the atmosphere is what will ultimately
determine the quality of a typical sunset, but even realizing
this scientific fact doesn't diminish the beauty of that sunset.
Knowing the chemical make-up of a newborn doesn't disqualify any
amount of parental love. It is at these moments - and so many
others - when the magic takes over...
seems the more we examine the physical realm in all of its aspects,
we find that magic seeping through. And you know what? That is
just fine. It's wonderful that we continually pry and prod down
to Nature's very quarks, but there always remains room in our
hearts and minds and lives for a little more of the magic. Especially
in our present world of critical scientific analysis and over-explanation,
there is always room on our plate for a side dish of personal
wonder and awe at the world around.
amidst all the scientific postulates and hypotheses, the Sun will
rise tomorrow and the sunflowers will follow its path across the
sky, babies will be born and people will fall in love. And all
this will occur despite our best scientific understanding and
explanation. It is at this moment when the magic takes over, we
face the sunlight and simply sigh, “That is just fine.”