Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Pitcher Plants

"Madagascar Pitcher Plant", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013

The Pitcher plant is, perhaps, the most mysterious leaf "flower" in the entire plant kingdom. With its unique ability to obtain food, it has inspired multitudes to question their concept of plants as being unable to act in acquiring food as animals do. These plants actually form a "tool" which enables them to hunt in place.  This tool is what we refer to as the pitchers.  The “pitchers” formed by the plants' leaves resemble old fashioned water pitchers or goblets of all shapes and sizes! 

These meat-eating pitcher plants belong to two large families —the Nepenthaceae (Old World) and Sarraceniaceae (New World). The “New World” family is native to the United States and Canada with some species found in Latin America; the other, to Southeast Asia, Australia, and Madagascar. These plants are very common to the bogs of eastern Canada -- so much so that they have been named as the provincial “flower” of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador! 

The pitcher plants of the Old World clan live high above a tree. Because there is not much of a food source up there, the plants resort to finding an alternative source of nutrients. What it does is to fold the ends of its leaves like a cup or a goblet and thus concocts nectar juices and waits for its victims. Meanwhile, the New World family members enjoy the attention of many more insects while staying on the ground. Unlike its relative who lives up in the trees, these pitcher plants actually form a whole “pitcher” out of their leaves. 

The food for these plants usually consists of insects of all kinds who, upon falling into the “nectar” are then unable to escape and thus give nutrients to the plant. Some plants are large enough, however, to consume frogs, mice and small birds who get trapped by falling into the “soup” and then being unable to free themselves.  Just to reassure you, however, none of these plants are big enough or powerful enough to consume an adult human as we have seen occur in the movies and on stage!

Most of these cups or pitchers actually have lids. These lids are not needed to trap the food inside the cup but are needed rather to prevent the plant from being drowned by too much rain water!

The so-called "New World" plants are normally simply referred to as Pitcher Plants in English although you sometimes hear them referred to as Huntsman's Cup.  The "Old World" plants are widely known, in English, as Monkey Cups.  This is because monkeys have often been observed drinking rainwater from them.  I would suppose this may also be the reason for calling them "Huntsman's Cup" on this side of the ocean; however, I would think that a hunter would have to be desperate to drink rainwater from the pitchers considering the amount of bacteria the water would contain!

"Green Pitcher Plant", drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2013



As you can see from the series of photos below, Braden is already quite the flirt!  Recently he went on a play date.  According to his Mom, Braden wanted to kiss the little girl first thing, but she was having none of it.  After seeing the photos, I couldn't help but create a story as though Braden was actually going on his first date. Hope you enjoy the captions.

Braden:  "I hope you are not offended that I brought you a flower on our first date, but I just wanted to do something special for someone so beautiful!"

Braden:  Isn't it amazing -- we both like the same DVDs and the same cartoons.  We have so much in common.  It is almost like fate brought us together !

Braden:  "What do you mean you don't want to give me a kiss?  I mean, I brought you a flower, we like the same DVDs and TV shows.  Doesn't that count for anything?

His Date:  "Braden, will you please remove your hand from my leg!"
Braden:  "Oh, was my hand on your leg?  I hadn't even noticed!" 

His Date:  "Look, Braden, you are just moving too fast for me.  You seem to be a really nice guy and you are certainly handsome, but unless you are willing to take some time so we can really get to know one another, I think this may be our first and last date!"

I wonder what Braden would have said at this point... 



Suki in HER place on the back of the sofa.  From here she often 
keeps an eye on me and on the balcony as well -- 
always watching for those pesky pigeons!
As Suki becomes better acquainted with my new bed, I find she is developing new techniques for disturbing me -- always in hopes of getting fed, of course.

The past few days, she has suddenly felt the need to jump up on the bed around 2:30 a.m.  She does this in a way that causes her to hit my legs very lightly as she jumps over me -- a jump that would ordinarily be easy for her to make without touching anything!  

This maneuver awakens me just enough to let me know that she has gotten on the bed.  I usually say something like "go back to sleep, Suki" and then fall back to sleep myself.  The next thing I am aware of is Suki crawling onto my body pillow until she is up near my head. 

This also awakens me.  I say something like "Settle down, Suki" and then usually I am able to fall back to sleep.  Suki's next move is to attempt to crawl from the body pillow to the top of my pillows in order to place herself directly behind my head.  This action is one I know and dread as I am well aware of what is coming next!

I am proven correct, once again, as within a couple of minutes I feel Suki's tongue starting to groom my hair.  This is something she knows I absolutely hate!  It is also something that brings me fully awake instantly!  I sit up quickly while saying unkind things to this crafty cat.  Suki, only concerned at this point about possibly getting fed, is purring and begging for food.  Usually, all of this combined causes me to give in and feed her even though by this point it is only about 4:30 a.m.

After feeding her, I find that I also am feeling hungry and so I have something light like a yogurt bar and then sit down in the big recliner and begin praying the Divine Office.  If I am able to do so, I try to let myself fall asleep just as I finish the long Office of Readings.  

Suki, meanwhile, has finished her breakfast and has settled down for a wash and a nap.  This gives me some time to sleep undisturbed.  Unfortunately, if it happens to be a day when Joycelyn is coming or I have an early doctor's appointment, then I really cannot afford to go back to sleep.  Those are the days that require an afternoon nap if possible.

At any rate, you can see who runs my household!  When I get any of those forms from the government to fill out which start with the question "Head of Household?",  I am always tempted to put Suki's name in ... one of these days I just may do that and see what happens!!  After all, it's only the truth.

Things remain pretty much the same for me.  My scars continue to heal, slowly and poorly in some places, but they are healing.  Sadly, it becomes more and more obvious that due to the nerve damage which occurred in the October surgery, my face is always going to look a bit lop-sided from now one.  Oh, well, it will give me something to talk about at social gatherings!!

Otherwise, I am trying to be grateful for all that I still have that does not depend on how my face looks -- like family and friends whose love doesn't change simply because of surgical nerve damage.  As well, my faith tells me that in eternity none of this will be of any consequence.  What will matter there is how willingly I accepted whatever God allowed to happen to me and whether I went on loving and forgiving in spite of everything.

May we all know that peace of God which passes human understanding -- that peace which God alone can give.


Sallie Thayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Braden's first date story is hilarious! I hope you'll catch up some sleep tonight! Love & prayers, A