"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: nature

Spring miracles . . .


Clematis "Montana - Nelly Moser" branching out under the bay window

Clematis “Montana – Nelly Moser” branching out under the bay window

Our Queen Anne Victorian house has a pink clematis climbing up one corner, then branches out into two lanes, one to the left and one to the right underneath a second floor bay window.

It is the FIFTH plant that has followed this pattern, the first one planted almost twenty years ago; then a bad winter befell the vine after some years and no more leaves showed up the following Spring. I planted successive ones over the next decade that either grew slowly or not at all. They were all the same color with the same species name: Clematis “Nelly Moser.”clematis %22Montana%22

This Spring, after the snowiest winter in Boston’s history, a climbing clematis was the furthest thing from my mind until I caught a glimpse of it this week while unloading groceries from the back of the car. Gardens and Mother Nature move along at their own pace. If we’re lucky, we may have a small hand in it now and then.

What a joy it is to see these familiar pink flowers reappear! It also reminds me that Hope Springs Eternal, even when I’ve almost forgotten about it.


clematis 1



nature and nurture . . .

Today, there’s a fascinating article in the Science section of the Times which describes the work of Dr. Hopi Hoesktra, a biology geneticist at Harvard. Her recently published paper in Nature outlines work her team of researchers have done to distinguish genetically traceable traits in two different species of deer mice by the way that they build burrows and provide escape hatches (or not.)

We are not mice but we might as well be to think about what we have control over in the way that we look and behave in the world as much as the person beside us or across the table from us. Much has been made of how much acculturation (nurture) has influence on our personalities and character traits. What if, for example, much of it is genetically persuaded if not outright determined; e.g., “we were born that way?” Recently, there has been so much information about how behavior is influenced by our DNA and the physical/biochemical makeup of our brains. And this is not just from watching “House” on TV either.

In my own life, I have been surprised to gradually understand how many habits and traits I have that are similar to my father’s, the helpful and the not so helpful: insight and intuition, bluntness, adherence to what you believe in even though others may disagree. So much literature is devoted to describing these kinds of parallels in families and life consequences that result from them. I’ve often wondered whether it was the nurture from such strong traits growing up that causes that symbiosis or whether it’s mostly genes. Probably some of both.

In any case, the reason I am writing this post is that the deer mice research is truly fascinating to read about. And to think that we humans might also be genetically predisposed to either building long burrows versus fat ones and whether or not to provide an escape hatch in the burrow is, well, a humorous reflection on our own human behavior.

I know that many of us take life too seriously (that’s me) but that we may also have ancestors who have done that for eons before us it seems. How happy we are with ourselves depends on a lot of things. Luck is a big one, it seems to me. That’s been an influential factor in how life has made corrections for me almost in spite of myself, and for which I am ever thankful. So, with nature (genes,) nurture (environment) and luck (unpredictable opportunity) maybe it’s time to give in to the Zen idea of just going with the flow, and not to resist because of some preconceived idea that maybe we know better.