Nature’s Design Principles

Winged Red Maple Seed

Over time, a species of tree that evolved into the maple did so in part because it succeeded in finding a way to disburse numerous seeds over a greater distance. As kids we called them “pinwheels” or “helicopter seeds.” Hedging no bets in the area of reproduction, between 12,000 and 90,000 of these seeds can fall from a single tree in one season.

In this image I see a delivery system, a “package” perfectly designed to accomplish its mission. The heavier bulb containing the seed responds to gravity, pointing downward so it can penetrate the ground, while the aerodynamic “wing” system takes advantage of the wind to disperse the seed beyond the tree’s roots where it can germinate in fresh soil with the added advantage of increased sunlight. The design alone increased the odds of successful reproduction.

Because creation begins with imagination, when I think of seeds, I think of ideas. Of the number of ideas I’ve had, relatively few passed beyond germination. Fewer yet reached maturity. With time and experience we become more selective in our wanting, but how is it that some goals, even when pursued with passion and persistence, do not come to fruition? Two examples, one from business the other from teaching, come to mind for me, both of which—in hindsight—provided the same simple but profound lesson: Apple trees don’t grow from peach seeds. They are both fruit trees, but their inherent designs, growth needs and strategies are very different.

If I were king of the world, students would be exposed to nature’s design principles and strategies before they graduate from high school. Like many of us with vivid imaginations, I generated many ideas about what I could do and what I wanted to do. Had I known, even metaphorically, that ideas and initiatives grow organically from the ground up (not the top down), from seeds (ideas) planted in soils rich in nutrients (money and resources) with lots of sunlight (intelligence and wisdom) and caring hands (a collaboration of peers), the ideas mentioned above would likely have blossomed. Instead, they now reside in folders in my “Uncompleted Projects” file drawer.

On the other hand, perspective: had those ideas manifested, I would not be the person I am today. And although those ideas still tug at my heartstrings, I consider myself better off for having learned what doesn’t work. Certainly, had either idea matured my lifestyle would have been chaotic. I needed to learn some very important lessons by missing the brass ring. And that’s perfect. Still, had I understood something of nature’s design principles and strategies, I might have directed my attention differently.

In our consciousness, there are many negative seeds and also many positive seeds. The practice is to avoid watering the negative seeds, and to identify and water the positive seeds every day.

Thich Nhat Hanh

About This Image

Title: Winged Maple Seed

Theme: Nature’s Design Principles

File #: 732-C2

There are many times when an object of interest can best be photographed under controlled conditions of lighting and background. So one of the best tools a serious photographer can have is what used to be called a “copy stand.” Basically, it’s a device where a camera can be fixed to an adjustable arm that moves up and down so it can be positioned closer or farther away from the subject. The option of bringing objects home to photograph expands the possibilities of subject matter.

For this image, I put the seed on a piece of glass with white paper beneath it and positioned photoflood lights on both sides to light the paper evenly. With a macro (close-up) lens on my camera I was able to come within inches of the seed and fill the frame.

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