While browsing FB recently, I came across a series of delightful photographs: flowers that mimic other things. Some look like tiny naked men, others like swaddled babies. There are monkey-faced orchids and laughing bee orchids and orchids that resemble flying purple ducks; one breathtaking specimen looks just like a white heron, wings outstretched.
Studying these small oddities puts me in mind of a quote by Russell Hoban. This is from his wonderful book, TURTLE DIARY:
“There’s an owl in the Charing Cross tube station. Bubo Tubo. Not really an owl. The sound comes from an escalator but it’s as real as the owl I hear on the common and never see. There’s only one world, and animal voices must cry out from machines sometimes.”
The closer we look at things, the more parallels we notice. Mountains etched in the waves of sandstone. Clouds shaped like animals. Why do deer antlers look like fallen tree branches? Why do cut tomatoes resemble human hearts? Why does a flower from Latin America imitate a shiny pair of red lips? These subtle, fanciful match-ups—are they clues? To what? What is our world trying to tell us?
I think these objects are simply here as reminders. Look, they are saying, look at what you’re missing. We are not likely to crack the code of life, to divine its meaning or mechanisms by studying the tiny gray skulls of a spent snapdragon flower, but isn’t it enough to be hushed with wonder?