David Stairs


A wild back yard

Except for a couple of thunderstorms, it hasn’t rained much in central Michigan this summer. It has been quite hot, and as usual, very humid. After aggressively mowing the grass in late May and June, it’s growth abates and it mostly browns off. The only way to keep grass green is by watering it, and in a world of diminishing clean fresh water, there has to be a better use for it than golf green lawn grass.

In my back yard, reduced mowing and drought means the onslaught of drought hardy wild flowers. Chief among these in July is daucus carota or wild carrot, otherwise known as Queen Anne’s Lace. Nearly octagonal, this lacey flower with a small red center was named after a monarch who supposedly pricked her finger while doing needlepoint, her drop of blood displaying at the center of her work.

I’m less interested in the apochryphal myth than the infinite variety in this delicate volunteer, and found myself documenting these variations one afternoon recently.

Reminiscent of nothing in nature so much as snowflakes, we learn in childhood that such things follow similar patterns but, like human beings, no two are the same.

Here’s to Mother Nature who, knowing better than silly humans, does not waste enormous amounts of time trying to make multiples look exactly alike.

David Stairs is the founding editor of the Design-Altruism-Project.

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