Dendrology is the study of trees. The term has the same root as dendrite which comes from the Greek dendron, meaning tree. Who would have thought that having to wait for a while outside the local electrical shop would yield such a beautiful source of dendritic patterns in the stone cladding of the building – one I have either walked past or have parked outside many times:
Although they look like fossilised imprints of ferns or minute trees, they are actually the result of manganese oxides that have crystallised on the surface and are fairly commonly found on sedimentary rocks.
Here is another selection of patterns in nature. This time the focus is on rocky cliffs and striations. Each tells a story of the shifting nature of the earth. Pause a while and wonder how these patterns emerged: our environment has so much to tell us!
The tiny reflection held in a droplet of water reveals a window to the world in a way we would not usually see.
In this one the legs of the photographer have unknowingly been captured:
An upside down view of my house is caught in this one:
And the light of the sky is reflected in these.
The day was perfect: clear, bright, warm and almost windless. Kenton-on-Sea looked charming and Kariega Beach inviting.
I spent the morning walking along the flat stretch of firm wet sand that reflected the blueness of the sky so well that it seemed as if the sky, sea and sand were one. The tide was out and the shallow rock pools easy to explore.
These are a sample of the many patterns on the beach:
Zebras feature among my favourite animals. They look sleek, healthy and happy in the wild; their stiff manes and the intricate pattern of stripes covering their bodies make them stand out as dapper creatures. I understand that while zebras may all appear to be the same, their striped patterns are all subtly different from one another – rather like our fingerprints.
They are photogenic too. It is not surprising that zebras are used to represent various products and are regularly featured on tourist brochures. Their dazzling stripes are both eye-catching and familiar. After all, most of us might have first me a zebra in our ABC books. The garage door of one of the houses in our town has even been decorated with zebra stripes!
These bold, striking patterns of black and white stripes of various widths that adorn these beautiful creatures are an enigma. While they appear to be so clear to our eyes, common knowledge holds that they are actually a form of camouflage and protection that creates an optical illusion that breaks up their outline. Some hold that the stripes help zebras to ‘disappear’ in the dappled shade of trees.
How can this be when zebras are, more often than not, seen grazing in open grassland?
I was intrigued to read the other day that biologists at the University of California are considering another advantage of the stripes: to ward off pesky disease-carrying horseflies or tsetse flies! The narrow stripes around the face and legs, for example, prove to be too dazzling for such insects to want to settle and bite the animals.
Perhaps that explains the contented appearance of zebras in the wild? We will need to observe them more closely when next we see them.
It is really only since becoming the delighted owner of a digital camera some years ago that I have been able to indulge my interest in capturing some of the various patterns that surround us. Some we pass by without paying them much attention while others demand a closer look.
The complex twisted appearance of this tree may catch the eye of some – an even closer look could reveal some interesting patterns that can grow as much as your imagination will allow. Sometimes one can be surprised by what a pattern turns out to be – as we did when we found a Scops Owl sheltering in a tree right next to our tent in the Kruger National Park!
True, these are all trees well away from home. Even in the garden are patterns worth exploring though: this fungus appeared on wood which had been lying in the garden for years.
I think a truly fascinating pattern is this very close look inside a nasturtium flower – I have Barry to thank for this image, which is almost from an insect’s point of view.
Stained glass windows are another source of fascination, each has a story to tell and some of the beautiful ones I have seen may be aired in time to come.