As bipedal, thinking creatures, we seem to crave order. Predictability and patterns alleviate apprehension for most and help us get from point A to point B.

If you look at the natural world, it seems to yearn for the same organization and structure. A clear pecking order exists down the food chain; certain things have to happen for other things to happen next; the sun rises; the moon waxes and wanes.

Ants on New Mexican Thistle near my home. Ant societies crave order in the same way human societies do, with drones, queens, workers, soldiers – specialized groups – performing organized, predictable functions to solve complex problems. (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

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Look at the uniform structure of a desert tortoise’s ridges, the predictability of one geometric section of shell to the next. (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

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A saguaro with a “heart” limb. The saguaro will grow only one inch in the first 15 years of its life. Such predictability allows researchers to estimate saguaro age based on height. (Photo credit: Melissa Crytzer Fry)

But sometimes things happen, and nature is nothing but unpredictable.

The roadrunner loses his mate and wanders for years in search of another. The anthill is destroyed by rain, creating chaos among the colony. Benign skies release thunderous cracks and snaps into the air, followed by a deluge of devastating rain. The owl looks for a new nest because human curiosity has forced it to a safer location.

For all of its predictability, nature is often chaotic and completely disorganized – but always, it seems, striving to achieve some sort of balance all over again.

Just like us.


*Originally published at What I Saw.  Reposted with permission of the author.

4 thoughts on “The Nature of Nature”

  1. And now I’m going to have to stalk you. I’m working on rewrites for a novel set in the Sonoran desert.

    I have a photo somewhere that I took of something fairly mundane. It was a grape tomato plant that had produced fruit in beautiful symmetrical pairs. There is order in the chaos and chaos in the order!

  2. LOVE your Thistle picture! The patterns and disruptions make nature so fascinating. Just when you think you have it all figured out… you don’t!

    1. Funny — I remember THE day I took that photo and was so excited to see the ants dancing upon the thistle! Boy are you right… you think you have it figured out, then whammo – Mother Nature throws you a curve ball.

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