Weeds and Seeds


Successful flowers become fruits or seeds, and November is their time of display.  These goldenrods are almost as handsome now as they were when bright yellow a month ago.  The white puffs, the various methods of making sure there is adequate dispersal, the pods left behind are all fascinating.

Our tendency is to look at the very short run or the very long.  We see that it is getting cold and soon winter will be here and we brace for it, ignoring this immediate day.  We plan ahead to the warmer summer to come and years of what might be.  But nature just cycles on in a rhythm of sprout, grow, flower, seed, spread over and over in a way that would calm us immensely, if we only take the time to contemplate it properly.

So many seeds are produced from one plant that, as Darwin realized, they would soon fill the world with offspring if not destroyed by being eaten or otherwise fail to germinate.  Yet such wasteful ways are what the world is filled with.  A terrifying concept, really, which nonetheless informs our aesthetics so that seeing all these doomed little bits of potential future life is somehow beautiful.

This time of year is prone to meditations on death and birth and cycles.  After all, the leaves fall, the ground cover dries brown, cold arrives and these seeds _ the hope of the spring _ are everywhere.  How I fit into all this, if at all, is the most natural question there could ever be.  Yet, its implications are so frightening that it is easier to head off to the mall and shop a bit more.


Scarlet rose hips and dry brown ragweed, not even that well composed, in front of the brilliant blues of an autumn sky reflected in the cooling seawater.  I’m not sure words add anything at all.  If you have been there and seen this, it makes sense, and if you have not, you wonder what’s the big deal.
The trouble with photographs and descriptions and all virtual reality is precisely that they are not reality.  No matter what their claims, they cannot deliver the experience of being present.  All I am giving here is an incomplete witness of what I enjoyed on my morning walk.

Pokeweed purple just about all gone now, soon to be nothing but brown stalks sticking out of coming snows.  Whatever remaining fruits there are have been pretty much eaten by wildlife or stripped by winds, and what hang on all increasingly shrivel.  Nothing really profound here, except that everything can be worthy of notice and produce beauty.

In another month, a shot from this same hill would show the harbor clearly though bare trees.  The joy of knowing any place well is the glory of its changes over time and the memories of those transformations.


Nothing special _ just the bare remnants of lives lived_ but isn’t that something?  Most of the day we flash by in cars or thinking about abstractions and never notice the fabulous decorations always
available.  There are those who will spend hours in a museum, oohing and aahing at the work of master craftsfolk, and fail to open their eyes to the masterpieces around every day.

Ragweed as one of God’s masterpieces.  That is an unusual enough thought with which to end this conversation.


Some seeds bleach out to near white rather than brown, and to a casual eye seem to be incongruously in bloom in the cold breeze.  In fact, there are an infinite variety of hues, for those with the patience to spend some time and see.

The immensity of the world can be stunning.  This is one tiny corner of one tiny lot in one tiny town.  The world for all practical purposes goes on forever at such scales.  It is our loss if we lose local perspective by getting overwhelmed by the grand narratives of the evening news or twitter twaddle.


Beauty seeps in all around us all the time, if we only try to see, even in the most unlikely places.  We have been shaped over billions of years to select and appreciate whatever fragments of the “real” universe we inhabit, and as we experience those patterns we become happy.

It is always easy to find beauty in nature, for we are part of nature.  Usually, we can also find beauty in the works of humans as well.  Part of the appreciation of our world is to be able to find how lovely our existence can be.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s