Wildflower garden. Photo credit: Fran Palmeri
This morning I was listening to Krista Tippett interview the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue, on her show called On Being. Tippett begins the podcast by defining what she thinks beauty is as inspired by O’Donohue,
“I’ve taken his definition as my own, for naming beauty in all its nuance in the moment-to-moment reality of our days: beauty is that in the presence of which we feel more alive.”
It moved me to write my very first blog post.
I can’t think of a better way to get myself going then to contemplate this and the beauty of wildflowers.
Butterfly and tropical sage.
“Beauty isn’t all about just nice, loveliness like. Beauty is about more rounded substantial becoming.” – John O’Donohue
If beauty is what makes me feel more alive, if it’s an act of becoming or moving from one state of mind to another, then when I really pay attention to the natural world around me, especially our insect pollinators, I am in the presence of beauty.
I find life where there are native wildflowers. When I am in the thick of it – planting, weeding or foraging, I can not only see all the insects, bees and butterfly hovering, dipping, zipping, humming and buzzing as the sun reflects off their busy little bodies but I can feel the energy of all that life around me. It resonates. Rarely, it can sting. Occasionally it can bite (mosquitoes and fire ants, which are too far a stretch for even me to find beautiful were it not for all the other insects that leave my body alone). But always it can connect me to my world, to this place and that makes me feel alive.
Bee and beauty berry.
Maybe I seek out this beauty because it forces me over a threshold, from one state of mind to another. I seek inspiration when I am feeling blah. Or comfort when I am feeling anxious. Nature is one of my go-tos for beauty. Gardening connects me with the universe. I want to be next to a bee and witness that moment of pause in its buzz while it pushes its body into a flower in search of pollen. I want to see a butterfly lay eggs on the underside of a leaf of its one and only choice species of host plant, the plant that will feed the caterpillars that will emerge from those eggs.
Bees and butterflies can take me from enwrapped in myself and day-to-day challenges or tasks to the world of pollinators that seems infinite and ancient. Infinite and ancient because the native pollinators that seek out a particular native plant or wildflower have been doing so forever. They have a connection that goes back since before humans were in Florida. I witness that connection when I stop to watch. When I plant wildflowers and care for them, I become a part of that connection. I am connected to nature.
Bee and climbing aster. Photo credit: Fran Palmeri
The relationship between pollinators and plants is very important to us humans, too, as we are coming to understand with the plight of the honey bee. Honey bees are dying and while we speculate that it’s because of humanity’s destructive effects on the environment, we know for certain that they are important to our food system, to our very survival.
To a person, native wildflowers may get mislabeled a weed and may be overshadowed by their more glamorous, cultivated, hybrid relations but native wildflowers mean the world to native pollinators. I find that beautiful.
When you get a chance, plant more native wildflowers, pay attention to pollinators and also listen to On Being (the inspiration for this blog post) here – Beauty Is an Edge of Becoming – John O’Donohue.
Thanks for reading.
Annie, William’s Wildflowers, Florida