This morning I am out for a walk on the land. My aim is to visit the large banyan tree behind our house, a ficus, probably about 30-40 years old. It's wide branches spread and meander, opening to the tropical sunshine and rain. Among the branches of this tree lives a jade vine, strongylodon macrobotrys. The jade vine grows peacefully along the northern face of the tree, intertwining with the branches, doing no harm. In fact, the glossy vine regularly sprouts with the most amazing blue blossoms on flowing purple stems about 3 or 4 feet long. The hundreds of unique blooms are shaped like Aladdin's slippers. I like to think the banyan is happy to have the pretty blooms among her leaves, like flowers in her hair.
The jade vine blooms profusely but doesn't make many seeds. It is about 15 years old and has only begun to make seed pods in the last couple of years. I don't know if it takes them this long to mature or if the recent uptick in bees on the land has changed things. In the years since it's begun to fruit only about a dozen pods have fallen.
The pods have the look and feel of an avocado. There has been a single pod that I've been watching for about 4 months now, since I first noticed it among the foliage. It was pretty high, about 25 feet up, swaying in the warm breezes. Lately I'd figured it was about to fall since it recently ripened from green to a bronze-brown. But every day on my rounds there it was, still swaying.
Until today. Last night after a long dry spell there came a cold front with booming thunder and rain chattering all night on the roof and trees. This morning the fat pod has fallen to the ground. And here is where the profound intelligence of the plant comes fully into view. Where the ground had been dry and the fallen leaves blowing about, now there is moisture. The leaf fall is damp and still, held down by the wet. The fleshy pod has popped open with enough force to split the stem that held it to the tree neatly in half. Three maroon-brown seeds were launched into the air, scattering just far enough that they won't compete too much for space.
The thumb-sized seeds that now sit on top of the damp ground will eventually send a long taproot deep into the leaf mulch and earth. A winding new vine will soon pop its purple head up and begin to wave skyward. But for now, the fresh seeds sit on the newly watered leaf litter in conditions just perfect for germination.
All the while I was watching and waiting, so too was the vine. She was waiting for the rain to fall and water her bed so her babies would have the best chance to sprout and root and grow. The profound intelligence of this plant struck me. What once seemed like purely mechanical forces of wind, water and time were also, in fact, wisdom. I looked up in recognition of the consciousness of the many beings that live in this tree: the vine, the ferns, the mosses and orchids. Surrounded by really smart plant beings, I smiled with the realized grace of understanding.