This morning I started work with my head in the clouds, literally. The Ko'olau mountain range, which is behind my house, is often swathed in misty clouds and that's where I was. These clouds reveal how much the weather can change here on Oahu depending on where you are relative to the mountains. Someone told me once that the island has six microclimates, and I believe it. The weather might be sunny and hot in one area, but rainy and cool (coolish is probably a better term) only a few miles away. Pouring rain in Kailua? You can probably still hop in your car and go to the beach somewhere else on the island.
Anyway, I drove to Mount Tantalus today, where it was very cloudy, because I'm reporting an ecology story for an online magazine and I needed to see the research that had been described to me in an office at UH. I needed to see the native plants, to watch how the scientists set up their experiment. Plus, I needed to get out of the house. (Raise your hand if you're guilty of sitting at a computer for too long. Yep, me too.)
I brought my good camera and a notepad with an extra pen. I also brought an emergency rain poncho, thank goodness. If not for the poncho, my camera probably would have croaked in the rain. I brought an my iPhone, which I was glad to use after the rain started and my camera lens got wet. I just wish I would have remembered to use the bathroom one more time before I left the house. Hiking with a full bladder for three hours can lead to distraction.
Hawaii is full of story material for those who want to write about ecology, marine biology, or agriculture. I'm sure there are plenty of stories here for me, too (because I don't write about ecology, marine biology, or agriculture--at least not yet). In the meantime, here's a video clip of a plant that I filmed while on a tourist excursion today with the kids. Our guide said this plant is called "sleeping grass."
I've seen this plant in action once before, when I traveled to Costa Rica in 2006. That was a very quick trip for a destination wedding. I had no tour guide to explain the surroundings, it was just an accidental observation that the plant folded when I touched it. Nearby, a team of ants was carrying leave cuttings across the path, just like what I'd seen on nature programs such as Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom...
Sleeping grass makes me think of nature movies again, only I'm thinking of ones like Planet Earth, which show amazing time-lapse video of forests where new plants spring up in a matter of hours, or where the leaves change from green to gold to red in a matter of days. Those fast-forward movies do a pretty good job of making plants look a lot like animals, don't they? They're not sentient beings; they're responsive, they sense, they move. And in this case, with sleeping grass, we can clearly see it.
I wonder why more plants haven't evolved to employ such quick reflexes?
I write about curious phenomena around us. I also write about people who are passionate about their careers, hobbies, or life experiences related to science. This blog chronicles my journey.
©Brittany Moya del Pino 2021. All rights reserved.