When I was growing up, I used to photograph my roses every day during the summer. I loved documenting the progression from bud to blossom. Balancing carefully on a stool, I worked to get the perfect angle with my point and shoot camera, sometimes falling in the bushes in the process! After I got the pictures developed, I would post the best ones on my bulletin board, reliving the highlights of the summer until next year’s blooming season.
Listening to a TED talk recently, I learned that filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg has masterfully captured what I longed to show the world with my amateur photography. For over 35 years, Schwartzberg has been filming time-lapse flowers for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In his film “Wings of Life,” he brings to light the critical role that pollinators play in bringing this beauty to us. Watching excerpts from his film and seeing these exquisite creatures, completing their roles in nature like skilled artists, brought me to tears. Schwartzberg says documenting moments of pollination is inspiring because “It’s the mystical moment where life regenerates itself over and over again.”
As I walked around my garden afterwards, I thought about all of the pollinators quietly doing their jobs, making it possible not only for us to enjoy a bouquet of flowers, but completing the cycles of nature that enable us all to survive. It wouldn’t be hard to go through a day without noticing a bee visiting flowers or a hummingbird busily working in the garden. Whether we stop to notice them or not, pollinators like bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, even bats, complete tiny thousands of tiny miracles every day. The stunning beauty of pollinators is all around us, and we are largely oblivious to it.
I stumbled on this TED talk during a week when I was feeling a little burnt out and not very full of life. It was remarkable to stop and realize that all around me, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are literally flying around, creating opportunities for beauty and for new life. That’s amazing when you think about it! All I needed to do was to watch and take in this splendor. That night, it was already dark when I came home from work, yet there was a hummingbird, hard at work, visiting our purple “Pride of Madeira” bush. Even in the dark, when it seems that nature is at rest, life is regenerating itself.
Schwartzberg closed his talk with this great reminder: “Always take time to smell the flowers, and let it fill you with beauty and rediscover that sense of wonder.”
You can hear Louie Schwartzberg’s TED talk“The hidden beauty of pollination” here.
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Julie Haydon is an artist and musician living the beautiful hills of Oakland, CA who creates that brings people together. When she is not at work in the studio or making music, she is outside playing in the dirt or hiking with her husband and their two spoiled dogs.