Lately, I’ve taken a few walks with my 3 year-old to a near by open space with some water trickling through it. A forest of reeds and cattails grows around the marshy area, which are now, in the spring time, crispy dry after the winter. We are watching to see when the new reeds will start to grow.
But in the meantime, every time I take my daughter with me, she asks me to get her a cattail. I walk into the reeds a little further each time and snap off a cattail for her. We have cattail fuzz all over our stroller and a fair amount in the garage, though most of them don’t make it that far.
Just the other day my little girl was whacking her cattail against the rim of the pipe-tunnel that goes under the walking path, and for the first time the cattail filled me with awe. That one cattail was producing an amazing amount of fluff. A little blanket of the stuff was falling off the cane, and yet that only removed a millimeter of the brown fuzzy tail.
And every fiber of fluff was connected to a seed. What extremely large number of seeds must there have been on just one cattail! I don’t dare pretend to estimate or guess. I can never guess the number of candies in a jar, and this is much much more than any candy jar I’ve ever heard of. All separating and drifting along as they bumped on the metal edge.
She threw the cattail into the water, mostly still intact. We watched floating fluff, and there was lots of it in the grass next to the stroller too. I wonder if anyone, anyone on this earth, knows how many seeds and fibers there are on one cattail. How many cattails grow in that one area each year. What percentage of them actually grow into new reeds and cattails. And how miraculous it is that regardless of their destiny, each one carries within its tiny self the potential to become another cattail with as many seeds yet again.