Day 111: Au Naturel

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April 20, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

So yes, I’ve said before how cool I think space is.  And it is.  Very.  There’s a lot to be said for shifting our focus from our earthly fixations in favor of a grander picture.  But space is not the only big picture we so often fail to acknowledge.  Earth really is an incredible place.  Why?  What makes it more interesting than, say, Mars?  Well, for one, we’ve got YouTube.  But more importantly, Earth the only place in the universe that we know of that’s home to life – and life is really something remarkable.  Without us humans being aware of the grandeur and complexity and ubiquity of life on Earth, it’s here, and there, and everywhere, now and always.  We (well, at least I) seldom pause to reflect on the living world beyond homo sapiens. Blame it on man-made distractions of the distractability of man, but today’s project is a reminder; a glimpse of the magnificence of life as we barely know it.

Botanical Voyeur: A Guide to Sex on the Prarie is a book with more than a dirty-sounding title.  It’s a reflection on and an exploration of life in its many, MANY forms, throughout the grassland prairies of Iowa.

So often when people talk about nature it’s done in a whispy voice dripping with reverence and adoration. Don’t get me wrong, there is so much beauty and awe to behold but I like my science like I like my science fiction: dark, brutal and gratuitous.

Life, death, songs, dances, murder, hunger, sex and survival – on a scale we have to be careful not to step on and yet so immense, so ubiquitous that one can’t help but feel small when aware of it.  Only with microscopes and magnifying glasses can we begin to understand just how immense life on Earth really is.  Immense and complex and fascinating.  And sometimes violent, bloody, savage and brutal.  And sometimes beautiful and sweet and delicate.  But always amazing.  Take a look around you, beneath, above and in every direction for the living world that escapes your immediate attention.  Botanical Voyeur  is letting you peek into the secret and sordid lives of beasts beyond our line of sight, and you have until May 9 to get your ticket to this prairie peepshow.


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