Friday, May 12, 2006

Night Life

One of my most simple and effective pollen avoidance techniques is this: Sleep during the day, live at night.

During the day, the pollen counts are far higher. For whatever reason, sleeping through those hours keeps me much healthier. I have far better function and less pain of all kinds. The trade-off is way worth it. Being a born night owl helps, no doubt. I used to work the graveyard shift, way back when, and it was an excellent fit.

Pollen is plant sperm. To make their babies, some plants do an elaborate dance involving other species, where they tempt something like a bee or fly to come land on the male flower, pick up pollen, and transport it to the sticky female flower, thereby fertilizing her. These antics can get hysterically funny in their convolutions - to those of us who like weird horticultural humor, anyway.

The flowers on those plants are generally the biggest, most beautiful, and/or most wonderfully scented in the plant kingdom. All the better to attract you, my dear.

And, if you think in terms of bio-energy or bio-economy from the plants' point of view, these are also the most "expensive." It takes a lot of the plants' vigor to put on these productions. They may "budget" their energy some by making less sperm. Since it's so targeted, there's a much better chance of fertilization with fewer attempts.

Other plants aren't specialized this way at all. Nope. What they do is, they simply make massive amounts of pollen and toss it all up in the air, willy-nilly, hoping the wind will carry it over to the female flower in question and drop it off.


Effective, but cheap.

Since it matters not a bit what these flowers look like or smell like, and since they put most of their energy into quantity rather than quality, these plants often make little ugly flowers. What botanists describe as "insignificant" flowers.

That's the stuff that makes so many of us allergic.

Plant sperm.

It's so fitting that a person who loves and respects genuine quality - including flowers - as I do, is allergic to cheap junk pollen.

I woke up late today, around 2:30 am - got to bed a bit late yesterday. I made my espresso and sat at the computer. Decided to turn on the hoses. I almost never water, but I've been, lately. Long and slow and deep - I turn on the hoses and let them run, moving them around every hour or two.

When I went outside there was a beautiful full moon with a star positioned straight overhead. I bet this lady can tell me exactly who that star is. (In the photo the star didn't show up, but oddly, something else did off to the side.)

And I noticed something else, too: The pods were OPEN.

The pods in question are sitting on the Head Cactus. This was a hurricane rescue plant from down the street. I carried it home on my head. (Check out the funny pix too, 11/23/05 archive.) Actually it's a euphorbia, not a cactus, but hey.

I'd only seen the pods during the day, and they were always closed. I had a good look at them yesterday - I did a bit of weeding in the morning, why I got to bed late. Sickening, yeah, but so satisfying.

Anyway, I saw buds all over these cacti. And I wondered why I never saw them open.

I felt a little silly tonight - I should have known! They're night-bloomers. Luckily the flowers were so entrancing, I got over my blush pretty quick.

They are incredibly beautiful.







Sexy as all get-out.

Forgive the photo quality, folks, I can't do them justice just now. I hope this gives you at least some idea of what I was privileged to witness tonight.

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