Sunday, 27 December 2015

Nature has the Last Laugh...but not the Last Word


We are progressing quite well with setting up our vegetable beds along the back wall of our yard; these have been chosen for optimum conditions for the growing of seeds, facing the sun, irrigated, sheltered from the wind etc etc with the addition of large amounts of compost.  However, while we have been keeping anxious watch for the appearance of our spoilt babies, nature has been at work in the front garden amongst my prolific petunias.  We were chagrined to find one morning that some of our new seeds had indeed emerged during the night, only to be immediately bitten off by a marauding caterpillar. However, when I went around to the front, I suddenly espied, sheltered amongst my flowers, two pepper bushes about a foot high, and what are either pumpkin, melon or courgettes busily twining themselves all over the back of the bed. 
Two pepper bushes
Doubtless these seeds had been in our home-made compost and we had started this bed before the others at the back. I have learnt one thing though: tiny seedlings need to be sheltered from full sun and hidden from predators in their early days.
Flowers are not supposed to support hidden veg
I was going to call this post: "Nature Knows Best", but I have my quibbles with Nature in that department as in her view, once anything female is past it's sell-by-date (i.e. menopause), meaning no more fertile eggs, then there is no point in said females remaining sexually attractive for their mates. I shall continue to fight the good fight on this front.


  1. I shan't comment on flowers, caterpillars and the knowledge. However on your parting comment may I offer some thoughts.

    Of all the animal kingdom humans are one of the few if not the only species that has menopause. The reason for this is some what confusing from an evolutionary point of view, but the prevailing thought is that grandmothers are essential to success of their grandchildren in natural settings. With the extended childhood of human progeny another set of eyes and hands collecting food (or providing funding in the modern case) has an evolutionary benefit. Genes look out for themselves. Grandfathers, I am not so sure about but the same argument could be made, but why do men remain potent (although decreasingly so)? Another discussion.

    I have read of a Scottish study that found that males with frequent sexual contact in a (I believe) monogamous context live longer. I say I believe monogamous because I am pretty sure that gains from sexual contact are more substantial when love is involved and there is no outside contact with STDs and other pathogens.

    Women were not included in this study which is unfortunate. There have been other studies, not as large, that indicated that the effect does not occur with women. In other words, women can live just as well without sex as they can with it. I may believe that to a degree because women are just far more adept at taking care of themselves than men are. But my own personal belief is that older women benefit from a loving sexual relationship as much as men do providing they feel loved, respected, honored, and not simply being used as an sexual appliance.

    I would think in a modern context that if grandparents are contributing to the economic success of their grandchildren and most pension compensation systems pay more to a married couple than to a single person (for instance in the US when one spouse dies the surviving spouse gets the larger of both their Social Security payments, and loses the smaller) then it is in the evolutionary interest of a child for all four of their grandparents to be alive. Ergo depending on your pension system, your grandchildren may very well do better with live grandparents. As such sexual attractiveness until death has value.

    I would suggest that it can be a lot better in the older years than the younger because you don't have to worry about pregnancy and you often have far more time and less exhaustion to stay in practice. Use it or lose it as they say.

    The other thing I would say about sex is that in human beings the reproductive roll of sex while of course the main reason falls sort of on the back burner. Saying sex is for reproduction in humans is sort of like saying a house is for shelter, or a meal is for nutrition. Indeed. But look how much more our homes can be than simple shelter, or how much more a meal is than just nutrition. Sex plays a far huger role with human beings and I agree, you should fight the good fight. Go out with a bang.

    1. I am not sure if that reproductive roll has sesame seeds or poppy seeds. I believe that I meant role.

    2. Great stuff. I had forgotten about my importance as a granny - probably because I didn't know mine.

    3. Having thought more about this a bit, I think the other thing we should remember is that people in natural environments tend to be more fit than modern people. Paleo diets and the rigors of everyday life might tend to help both women and men maintain sexual attractiveness, as would the lack of books and television. Also certain autoimmune diseases by definition did not exist or were rare. The condition of my knees would make me easy saber tiger fare.

      I am not convinced that monogamy was as rare as we are being told by the current crop of evolutionary biologist (always a suspect crowd at best). At my age why would I want to complete with other males to bed the best maidens when I could bed the one I have been with in something far more meaningful to the individual human psyche than genetic legacy. Animals do a lot of things for convenience and an old male may find the allure of a maiden surrounded by competing alphas to be a bit much, as may an older female may tire of genetic competitions that her body has opted out of. Genuine human love beyond mother and child may have evolved out of such convenience. I don't think we should be so ready to believe that long term human commitment is a result of an agrarian patriarchy. Those tales may fit the needs of the young and those in mid-life crisis, but as Fezziwig told Scrooge in the George C Scott movie of A Christmas Carol its good to go down the rough road of life with the right female at your side to bear the load.

      3:05 to 3:25

      Loving is best in the afternoon and when it doesn't result in a squalling baby!