While I can appreciate the need to self-replicate, I wish the local grass plants would stop trying to do it on my face! I often have seasonal allergies, but my family and I are now living in an area in Oregon with one of the highest grass pollen counts in the world, so for the last few days the air has been full of little gametes and my respiratory system has exploded into an itchy, sneezy mess.
These amber waves from my enemy are thanks to the fact that grass needs the wind to reproduce. Like other flowering plants, they’re rooted in one place, so they need something else that moves—what scientists call a “vector”—to get their genes to where they need to go. Apples and tomatoes employ insects like bees, but grass hasn’t evolved to pay for these services with nectar; instead they simply create a massive amount of pollen and cross their fingers (genetically speaking) that a few grains will make it to home base.
I’ve been thinking about all of this a little more than usual, and it’s not because of my tearing eyes and stuffed-up nose; it’s because I’m wading into the first draft of my next solo project, an illustrated book for kids about reproductive biology in the natural world. I still don’t quite know what shape it will take, or how to write about the content at just the right level, but I’m a big fan of learning about evolutionary biology, and crossing genes is why our world is full of wings and flowers and birds that can dance. I’m totally excited (and completely terrified) to get going on the first real draft, but the feeling is familiar—I feel this way at the beginning of any new project—and writing a book is a good excuse to stay indoors while the grass is busy getting busy. 😉