It always makes me marvel when I realize how Nature replicates herself, or when I consider how trees and plants are fractal images of themselves with one part mimicking the whole and/or the whole being an enlargement of a single part. Visiting the Huntington Gardens recently I saw five miniature globe cacti perched upon a much larger one. They resembled spiky quintuplets arrayed around the equally spiky shoulders of their mom. No surprise that Nature’s symmetry crosses from the plant world to our human world. The branches, limbs, and twigs of a tree mirror the branching patterns of our lungs just as our circulatory system begins with Mississippi-like arteries from which flow veins and then some 50,000 miles of capillaries fanning out like teeny tributaries across the entire map of our body.
What’s just as cool is the way Nature’s patterns are picked up by the human hand and replicated in art, clothing, what have you. The first time Martin and I saw this mountain range in Utah’s Gooseneck State Park, we stopped in our tracks. In addition to the evidence of millions of years of upheaval and erosion, we instantly recognized the mountains’ bargello-like striations as inspiration for the patterns adorning so much of the region’s Native American pottery.
Even more fascinating was a stretch of rock formation in Arches National Park. One look and I recognized it as the inspiration for a Native American stichery called Seminole Patchwork. Many moons ago, back when I still sewed, I created a kimono based on this process. What you do is sew strips of fabrics together, cut them apart in equal widths and then reassemble the bits into strips by shifting them up or down a notch to create a vibrant pattern. Cannot believe I ever made something so complicated. When Martin and I were walking through the Park last fall, I looked down and saw the very same process at work courtesy of Mother Nature, albeit over the course millennia. See the strips? And the layers of rock shifted just enough to create the fabulous pattern? Look closely and you might even imagine a range of mountains folding in and out of some enormous canyon. Which brings us right back to where we began: patterns, microcosms of same, and the magical replication of creation that’s all around us when we spend a few minutes seeking it out.