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Wings of Life

Yesterday was a grey and rainy day in the city, and the slurch was strong at ALC-NYC. We were super sleepy.

So I asked what documentary I should screen in the afternoon for us to lazily watch, and @thewitchqueen908 emphatically insisted on Wings of Life. I later found out that he was suggesting it for me to watch, not as one to watch together. So I watched it with @douglasawesome @failspy and @shadowjack.

The movie is narrated from the perspective of Flowers. Not a single flower or a series of flowers or a kind of flower, but a single consciousness shared by all kinds of flowers. She talks about pollination and tricks she has developed to ensure her ability to reproduce. She explains some of the ways pollinators have evolved and developed symbiotic relationships with her. And she ends with a discussion of how humans fit into these networks of relationships.

Some of the shots were really beautiful. We really enjoyed the dramatic hummingbird fight. I learned that some female bats can fly with their young clinging to them, and I had fun watching the boys get jump scared by a spider 😉

We had a brief but interesting conversation towards the end of the movie when Jack asked, “But don’t we need pesticides to keep crops from getting destroyed?” And I got to answer by sharing this passage from Botany of Desire (Pollen):

“…I began to understand that organic farming was a lot more complicated than substituting good inputs for bad. Instead of buying many inputs at all, Heath relied on long and complex crop rotations to prevent a buildup of crop-specific pests — he has found, for example, that planting wheat after spuds ‘confuses’ the potato beetles.

“He also plants strips of flowering crops on the margins of his potato fields — peas or alfalfa, usually — to attract the beneficial insects that eat beetle larvae and aphids. If there aren’t enough beneficials to do the job, he’ll introduce ladybugs. Heath also grows eight varieties of potatoes, on the theory that biodiversity in a field, as in the wild, is the best defense against any imbalances in the system. A bad year with one variety will probably be offset by a good year with the others…Heath’s were the antithesis of ”clean” fields, and, frankly, their weedy margins and overall patchiness made them much less pretty to look at. Yet it was the very complexity of these fields — the sheer diversity of species, both in space and time — that made them productive year after year without many inputs. The system provided for most of its needs.”

Now I’m hungry and wanting to go outside and admire the flowers. Cheers!

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