Toad in the Hole
August 02, 2006
Monday morning, just before someone was due to arrive here with a fistful of papers to sign (Someday I'll complain here about the sheer paperwork involved in getting old.), I was sitting at the computer here and caught a familiar whiff. Garbage including rotten meat. Oh, great timing. The stapelia on the windowsill was blooming, and I'd sworn I'd get photos.
There it sat in the sunlight, coyly opening a petal or two at a time. And shyly stinking.
I pulled the curtain shut because the sun was making me and the camera squint, and Stinky the Stapelia kept unfurling.
On cue, the flies appeared. Stinky stinks because she's pollinated by flies. They walked around the petals, emitting sharp little buzzes and, apparently, also emitting eggs.
See those little whitish tubular things just below the center of the flower, the ones that aren't quite aligned with the stripes? They're wriggling.
That, and the scent that was swelling like the orchestral background of a corny movie's end, compelled me to move Stinky out to the front porch for the duration.
The petals opened and then flexed backward. The flies kept on coming. That was OK, because I'd perched Stinky just above Joe's collection of carnivorous plants, e.g. these:
By evening, the stink had abated and domestic harmony was restored. Stinky's back on the windowsill and the flower's wilting. I trust the carnivores got a share of the feast, at least the grubs I brushed off. Cooperation rules, even (maybe especially) among plants!Posted at August 2, 2006 06:22 AM
It's such a beautiful star of a flower. And yet: I gagged as soon as I saw the picture. Paging Dr. Pavlov!
Posted by: Liz at August 2, 2006 05:18 PM
That is SO cool! My trumpet plant never got another trumpet. I don't know what I am doing wrong.
Posted by: Janis at August 2, 2006 06:37 PM
Sorry... I tagged you.
Posted by: PSoTD at August 2, 2006 07:58 PM
Wow! That is something!
And your story is also something. It makes me think those circular thoughts about Darwinism and adaptation and the place of Humanity in Nature, and wonder all kinds of maybes about something so beautiful it makes you want to grow it, yet that stinks so bad when it blooms that it forces you to put it outside, where its florescence will actually mean something -- and also feed any nearby carnivorous plants through this strangely hyper-agented symbiosis.
Whoa. Head spinning.
Posted by: Sara at August 2, 2006 08:07 PM
Sara, is this something like the cat eating cheese and waiting by the mousehole with baited breath?
All right, PSoTD, I memed like a good sport.
Posted by: Ron at August 3, 2006 02:08 AM
Actually, I'm thinking more along the lines of how non-purebred cats might evolve to be cuter and cuter, ever more irresistible to humans so that ever more humans will bring them home and feed them cheese, thereby giving them increased opportunities as a species to wait by ever more mouseholes, etc.
And the mice are really cute, too, which increases their odds of surviving the consequences. I like bugs, but am less interested in saving them from feline clutches than I am a small fuzzy critter with little pink hands and black beady eyes. Partly this is because cats tend to just eat bugs, whereas they actually play with mice, which provides a better chance for the prey/toy of survival. Partly it's because of the little pink hands and tiny little scoop ears.
So, the kind of question making me dizzy is exemplified thus: Are mice cute because of evolution, or is it just an accident of nature that works out for them in light of a possible evolutionary path of wannabe domestic felines? Is cuteness in cats natural selection in them or in us? The questions go on and on. The web goes on and on. And it all devolves upon cuteness. Well, aesthetics.
Posted by: Sara at August 3, 2006 02:32 PM
Hmm, kind of The Botany of Desire meets (I ain't linkin this) Cute Overload?
Posted by: Ron at August 5, 2006 01:50 AM
Pretty much, yeah.
Posted by: Sara at August 6, 2006 04:29 AM