Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for May 25th, 2019

Wild onions along Bull Creek

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The last post brought you a picture of a long-jawed orbweaver spider on the stalk of a wild onion, Allium canadense var. canadense, along Bull Creek on April 26th. It occurred to me that I should show you one of the flowering wild onion plants in its own right. How about that looping greenery?

Wild onion leaves are even more elongated than long-jawed orbweaver spiders: hardly wider than a quarter of an inch (7mm) yet as long as 18 inches (46 cm). Below is an abstract take on one of those linear leaves that had yellowed and browned. I don’t remember, may never have known, what created the faint orb below the leaf’s tip. Whatever it was, we can see it as a planet floating in the deep blue and black of cosmic night.

 

And now Pascal, the thinker, the mathematician, comes to mind: “Le silence éternel des ces espaces infinis m’effraie.” “The eternal silence of those infinite spaces frightens me.” That famous line is at the end of this passage from his Pensées, his Thoughts:

 

“Quand je considère la petite durée de la vie, absorbée dans l’éternité précédente et suivante, le petit espace que je remplis, et même que je vois, abîmé dans l’infinie immensité des espaces que j’ignore et qui m’ignorent, je m’effraie et m’étonne de me voir ici plutôt que là, pourquoi à présent plutôt que lors. Qui m’y a mis? Par l’ordre et la conduite de qui ce lieu et ce temps a-t-il été destiné à moi? Memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis.

“Pourquoi ma connaissance est-elle bornée? Ma taille? Ma durée à cent ans plutôt qu’à mille ? Quelle raison a eue la nature de me la donner telle, et de choisir ce nombre plutôt qu’un autre, dans l’infinité desquels il n’y a pas plus de raison de choisir l’un que l’autre, rien ne tentant plus que l’autre?

“Combien de royaumes nous ignorent!

“Le silence éternel de ces espaces infinis m’effraie.”

 

“When I consider the shortness of a lifetime, absorbed as it is into the eternity that comes before it and the one that comes after it, the tiny space I take up, and yet that I can see, lost in the infinite immensity of those spaces I know nothing about and that know nothing about me, then I get frightened and bewildered at finding myself here rather than there, and I wonder why now and not some other time. Who put me here? By whose order and whose actions was this place and time destined for me? Memoria hospitis unius diei praetereuntis. (Pascal is quoting from The Book of Wisdom: “The remembrance of a guest of a single day that passes away.”)

“Why is my consciousness limited? My size? The length of my life a hundred years rather than a thousand? What was nature’s reason for making my life like this, and for choosing this number instead of another one, in the infinity of numbers for which there’s no reason to pick one over another, given that none has any more appeal than any other?

“How many realms know nothing about us!”

“The eternal silence of those infinite spaces frightens me.”

 

© 2019 Steven Schwartzman

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Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 25, 2019 at 4:40 AM

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