Friday, December 14, 2012

One Hour Later

This photo taken about an hour after the ones in my previous post.  It's probably just another attempt to deny the onset of winter.  But I thought the scene was rather pretty.  I'm wondering how much metabolism continues underground once the surface is covered with snow.  It must depend on temperature, of course, but there must be some limit.  Last year around this time we had weeks of single digit temperatures, and I'm sure the freeze line must have extended at least a foot below the surface.  What about all the seeds that germinate in the spring.  Does their metabolism completely stop during these times?  If so, are they still alive?  How dormant is dormant?  Plant physiologists can answer these questions, of course, but as a naturalist, I have too many questions to answer.  I just enjoy wondering, and I do a little research in the cases I can't resist.  I'm amazed by things like a patch of lichen on a rock only two or three inches in diameter that may be several hundred years old.  That's what I call a slow metabolism.  Compare that to some plants that can gain a foot in height overnight.  I wonder at what point in the evolutionary tree of animals curiosity first appears, and whether it confers any survival advantage on those that develop it.  Will curiosity save us or finish us off?  I keep changing my mind on this subject.


  1. You know what they say, "Curiosity killed the cat!"

    - P. Russell