Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reading the Magnolia Leaves

Photo 1: At least 2 leaves have managed to make their way through another "host leaf."

Photo 2:  Note the puckering of the leaves as they've poked through the "host leaf."

I've never claimed to be a botanist, and I'm not about to start.

But I'm pretty confident when I say that these photos I took today of the magnolia tree in my back yard depict a pretty rare phenomenon.

At least two leaves have managed to grow their way through another leaf, which I've decided to call the "host leaf."

In case you're not familiar with the grande dame of southern evergreens, the magnolia tree, let me introduce you. They're more commonly found in wetter southern states east of Texas, but a hardy variety has managed to survive in our scorching summer heat and raw winter freezes. The healthiest specimens benefit from a full profusion of branches - no trimming! - and a deep blanket of dead magnolia leaves underneath, just like an ordinary pine tree usually does best with a thick pile of pine needles around its roots.

Unlike the conventional prickly needles of northern evergreens, however, the magnolia features broad, oval-shaped leaves with waxy green tops and a brownish fuzz underneath. And it's amongst these leaves that the phenomenon I noticed today has taken place.

As a new magnolia leaf grows, I've noticed in the past that if an abrasion occurs on its waxy surface, a dead spot can form, and even create a hole through the leaf. Apparently - and again, remember, I'm not an expert - an abrasion of some sort formed on this host leaf, which could have even been a result of the constant rubbing of the other leaves, since they are close together in a clump at the end of a branch. Over time, the constant rubbing of these leaves nestled perpendicular to each other seems to have worn an abrasion through the host leaf, which then yielded a hole, through which the other two leaves have grown!

Either that, or some bored squirrel chewed a hole in a leaf and pulled through a couple of other leaves, just to kill some time.

At any rate, I think it's an extraordinary occurrence. Don't you? No moral analogy. No sermonizing or doctrinal exposition.

Just nature doing its thing, even if it's not exactly part of God's ideal plan for leaves on His magnolia trees. Usually, they're splayed along buoyant, long branches in little tropical-looking umbrellas of verdant green, making the tree almost shine after a thunderstorm, and looking lush even in winter - a sure reminder, as all evergreens are, that spring will be here soon enough.

Perhaps even in this natural display of God's Creation, however, some rambunctious and stubborn leaves didn't want to play by the rulebook. One of them stayed in place, refusing to budge as two other leaves rubbed against it for so long that they wore a hole in it.

And proceeded to grow through it!

Hmmm... maybe there's a profound moral in here somewhere after all. At least enough to admire how God's Creation both accommodates (the host leaf) and persists (the two other ones)? And how they do it so they both survive?

I'm not even sure I'm wired to do that!

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