M and I were watching bumblebees as they hovered and crawled over some passionflowers while we were walking in West Asheville this afternoon. The flowers smelled like honeysuckle, like exotic lilies, like the distilled sweetness of a million summer afternoons; and the bees were all over them lapping up the nectar. Meanwhile, as they crawled on the nectary center part, they fit perfectly under the five pollen pads, thereby filling their furry backs with thick coats of the pollen that was on the undersides of the pads. When a newcomer bee would land on the flower, with its back already full of pollen, it would pass under the overhanging anthers and transfer some pollen to the flower's three anthers, which connected to the ovary. I haven't looked up the botanical explanation of passionflowers, but this is what our observations told us, and it was so elegant and economical; nothing designed by a human could improve on it.
Earlier today we had gone to our critique group, where we realized that our group has been meeting once a month for more than eight years. Amazing.