Chaos to Order

Looking at this photo amuses me – I mean, I like the photo, I really do, but I am amused at the inherent contradiction in nature that I can see in it.

One the one hand, chaparral is this impenetrable chaotic mess of drought-tolerant hardy shrubs (you’ll probably come out scratched and bleeding if you try to pass through it) – and on the other hand, all the plants are completely categorized, described, put into their specific genii, species, subspecies and whatnot… all neat and orderly, logical, verified and tested. The fastidious order of the scientific classification on paper manifests in the shape of chaos in the real world on the chaparral slopes.

And while applying our system of scientific “order” to it helps us understand it, there is a more fundamental “order” to it that we can easily observe: the Southern Mountain Misery (Chamaebatia australis) is bright green, the Toyon’s (Heteromeles arbutifolia) leaves are serrated, the Lemonade Berry (Rhus integrifolia) leaves are of a deeper green, the Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum) has thin, short and needle-like leaves, and so on. But it’s also (and more importantly so) the way how the plants grow, reproduce, react to fire… perfectly programmed to do one thing: survive. It’s amazing how reliable and efficient this chaos is in the end.

Nature has organized itself pretty well already – and it didn’t need us for that at all. Maybe we should just stay away from it, let the chaos happen, to preserve the order.


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