March 09, 2013
Books of Ice: Sculptures by Basia Irland
From Orion Magazine:
Balls of ice sowed seeds of life on Earth. That’s what comets are, just clumps of ice holding interstellar rocks and dust. But in that dust are amino acids and nucleotides that build living things. Many scientists think that this might be one way life began on Earth, 4 billion years ago, when the spinning arms of the galaxy cast comets over the planet, comets and comets and comets, protolife smacking onto the broken lava plains, until basins gathered the meltwater into oceans, and the oceans nurtured onrushing life. Ice sows ice, too. The first grains gleamed in white sunshine, throwing back the sun’s heat and cooling their own small shadows. More ice formed in the cool places, and the shine of it cooled a larger shadow, until the reflectivity of the growing ice sheets cooled the whole planet, finally draped in dazzling layers of ice. Now the glaciers that remain in mountain valleys give life to rivers—the Ganges, the Fraser, the Colorado—as meltwater slides down blue rills and finally cuts a channel through gravel and till.
In hot winds at the end of summer, mountain mahogany seeds unfurl. Each pod sprouts a few white feathers, loosely coiled. A feather-seed lofts over the ridge and drifts onto dirt. After a hard rain, the seed swells and uncoils, augering its hard head into the soil. There it plants all the instructions for making a mountain mahogany sapling, laid out in the language of DNA. A seed is a conveyance system for information. It is words taken wing—words written in the language of adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, ancient instructions clasped between hard covers, everything needed to carry a story to a new place where it can take root. Long before writers figured it out, seed-bearing plants had found a way to convey to the next generation wisdom accumulated over millions of years. A samara is wisdom with ailerons. A dryas seed is a set of instructions with hair as wild as Einstein’s. A dandelion seed is an epic on a parachute. A sandbur seed is a poem stuck to a sock. An elm seed is a prayer book: This way is life. This way is rootedness.
More here. (Note: Do take a few minutes to watch the stunning video)
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