Another night of bizarre dreams, of shrouded beings jostling me, while muttering. This time, when I woke, I found not only my feet, but up to my knees wet. Again the rest of the tent was dry. I am a woman of science, rational and not easily disturbed by superstitions, but I felt disquieted. It took a particularly syrupy shot of coffee to dissipate my funk, and then I went exploring.
Rather than visit one of the other islands, I took my boat around to the opposite side of the island that I slept on. A steep cliff face and jutting rocks had always put me off this area, but when rowing past, I had seen that a number of plants sprouted from the scree, and this justified braving the difficult access.
After rowing back and forth across the perimeter, I managed to find a natural jetty jutting out from the rock. I parked my small row boat, and with a rucksack of supplies strapped firmly to my back and clambered up. The plants I had seen were easy to locate, being the only ones growing there, and they were well worth the journey, revealing a nature unseen in all of science!
There were four plants of different genera stood in a line, each of a completely different habit. Each was a typical desert style plant, with sparse, fleshy leaves. However, they were connected. A woody stem protruded from each grew into the next, the different plants fused together.
Now I knew this was possible, it’s a phenomenon called inosculation and it occurs naturally with a number of trees. Usually with trees of the same species, but not always. However, it occurs when trees happen to be growing in the same space, or when forced by humans; not as a deliberate seeking out by one plant to the next.
My curiosity aroused, I prodded the plant at the end of the line, each of the plants drooped their leaves, presumably as protection against a perceived attack. Again, this has been encountered in science – the leaves of Mimosa pudica will shrivel up if touched, making it look unappetizing to potential mammals; but that was the only plant I knew of with such a skill. Yet here were four more species.
I spent a fascinated morning, sketching, experimenting and finally dissecting. Aside from the inosculation and sensitivity, the plants were normal, inside and out.
My endeavours were only disturbed once, when my fisherman visitor came by. Naturally he was not pleased with my work. He took his awkward straight line method of walking, trying to fit the straight lines around the rocks, all the while throwing small handfuls of stones that he took out of his satchel.
“You already saw off the spirits on the island,” I said cheerfully, hoping for a relaxed conversation without the usual confusing threats.
“They never leave, they live here,” he said. “You should leave that plant alone, it will steal your nature,” he said and my hopes were dashed.
“You keep saying things like that, yet here I am with my nature intact!” I said, cutting off a leaf and watching in delight as a different plant in the line withdrew its leaves right into the stem.
“Your nature is not ok. I can see it stolen by the islands. You’re having the dreams.”
Well this comment pulled me up short.
“How do you know about the dreams?” I asked suspiciously. He smiled a smug smile and started to make his way back across the rocks without speaking. I shouted after him, even started to follow him, but he moved like a cat across the rocks and was gone in a moment.