On Seeds

Written by John Daciuk, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On Seeds

One day, I dropped a sunflower seed on the table and looked at it as closely as I could manage without losing focus. I could not overcome a feeling of cognitive dissonance. Seeds are miraculous, but I don’t believe in miracles.

There is something that totally separates seeds from other crumbs, like wood splinters, but upon inspection I could not stretch my imagination enough to deem what it was. If I didn’t know better I would bet a fine penny that nothing was ever going to emerge out of a seed. Never ever would a gargantuan yellow sunflower or a tall oak flex their muscles to crack a seed open from the inside, especially if the seed was buried. But this is precisely what happens, with or without us, whether we like it or not. How? I raise my hands in bewilderment.

What is even more amazing about seeds is that they, in due time, all spray forth an army of exact copies of themselves, equipped to conquer the surrounding terrain. Many seeds have tiny little hooks on their surfaces in order to hitch a ride, others are buoyant. The ones that most people detest come with the ultimate bribe; fruit.

If there is one thing seeds are good at it is making high fidelity copies. It’s actually a life or death matter. If I knew how cunning they could be I would have smashed that one on my table while I had the chance.

Seeds come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes and colors. The seed of a coconut can weigh up to fifty pounds. What is even more spectacular is that the seed of a 300 foot high Redwood is only 4 mm long. And to think that I always assumed the human brain to carry the most information for its weight.

Apple seeds come equipped with cyanide, a poison that begs the consumer not to swallow. Coffee beans are actually also seeds, beings capable of hoaxing humans to spread them with their flavor and psychoactive, may I say addictive, drug stuff. Other seeds are just plain delicious, such as cumin, mustard or sesame. However, this all only further buries us in questions.

After doing some research, allow me to fancy you with my imagination. Let us go on a magical trip to the center of the seed. The outside layer is the protective covering: little mystery here. But once we seep through that layer, we get to the burning heart of a seed, the embryo and food storage tissue. The embryo is actually a microscopic leaf like material… and it’s hungry.

The food storage system sends out a ‘radical’ which will scour the soil for resources to wire back home. The storage tissue then spoon feeds the embryo. This feed is not corn; it actually rays from our nearest star, plus water, oxygen, nitrogen and other substances that reside in the soil. After the embryo licks its plate clean, its cells start splitting and multiplying. Suddenly, the dramatic volcanic eruption happens and we see the plants we all know and love popping up out of the soil. Germination is complete. Watch your step, honey.

I could just move on at this point, but to be perfectly honest with you, I have no clue how the nutrients stated above actually disappear and more plant cells appear. Deep down seeds must have a code and a language which they can use as an instruction manual for reproducing the plant they came from, but where this code exists, I have no idea.

Believe it or not seeds are actually alive before they find a home in a patch of black gold. They breathe very slowly while they patiently await the proper conditions to make their risky run for germination. Seeds are not troubled to wait hundreds of years.

It may even be beneficial for them to wait longer, for when they finally grow they may be the last of the species left; a savior seed. Recently, seeds were found in an Egyptian Tomb thousands of years old, and were prepared to burst as soon as scientists gave them the right conditions. Talk about being picky.

But maybe we can learn something from this flamboyant display of patience. Maybe seeds can also enlighten us on the potential for immense growth out of ashes, dirt and shit. What is more precarious and dependent than a seed but also as inevitable to succeed?

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