It was Clear-the-weeds-in-the-vegetable-patch Day on Sunday. Things were at such a point, unless you knew them as a mother does her children, you might not find the vegetables among the upstart thistles and other weeds. On my knees, rummaging among desired and undesired stems, I looked into the heart of the summer squash thicket and saw this beautiful spiral.
Who could find such a thing and not stop in their labor, sigh a sigh, and feel for a moment the perfection of being?
Here is another, the vine of the runner bean making its way up. It finds its own means of taking hold, reaching rightwards around any support it chances to find.
Compare its right-winding direction with the squash blossom above. The squash goes left. The bean goes right.
In the lyrics of Flanders and Swann ,
The fragrant honeysuckle spirals clockwise to the sun,
And many other creepers do the same.
But some climb anti-clockwise, the bindweed does, for one,
Or Convolvulus, to give her proper name.
In this song, the honeysuckle and the bindweed find themselves tragically star-crossed lovers who can never come together because they vine in opposite directions. Their plan is to,
“…run away for a honeymoon and hope that our luck’ll
Take a turn for the better” said the bindweed to the honeysuckle.
Together, they found them, the very next day,
They had pulled up their roots and just shrivelled away.
Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight,
To veer to the left or to veer to the right!
Here’s another right-ward spiral, though within it you can see a left-hand turn as well. This bi-partisan approach might have solved the problem for the bindweed and the honeysuckle, if they had had a composite flower like the daisy.
Much more is going on in this flower than its spiral. Those little spiraling ‘beads’ in the center of the flower are mathematical genius growing wild. If you were to take the flower apart, down to its center, called the Capitulum, and count the ‘beads,’ you’d find this sequence of numbers growing in the turns:
It’s a series known as a Fibonacci sequence: each sequential number is the sum of the preceding two. I take it on faith. Enough other people have counted them.
Look here to see the wonder of this sequence.
Now I’m looking at the brow of our Mule, and wondering if William is more perfect than I might have thought.
Does he know what a miracle might lie between his ears?