How nature unpacks its generosity

Vloggers these days all over the world seem to be consumed by unboxing YouTube videos. They order gadgets online and spend 90 minutes of love opening the box, removing parts one by one, and saving them to smartphones. At the end, they’re surrounded by a bunch of bulletproof molded plastic, enough bubble wrap and Thermocol to fill a dumpster, and smug smiles on their faces.

In India it is different. Here it means declaring a full-scale war on the item: no imported military grade can opener can open our specially armored tin cans without causing considerable blood loss in the home. Have you tried opening a bottle of foreign alcohol made in India without wanting to smash it into a thousand pieces? This is all part of our national Killjoy policy.

The flower petals unfold with slow beauty. (Source: Ranjit Lal)

Now look at Mother Nature. Every time I peel a banana, I am amazed. The packaging is perfect, resistant (raw banana), waterproof, recyclable and open / “unpacked” it gives you a certain tactile pleasure. In fleshy fruits like mangoes and chikoo, the sweet flesh easily separates from the skin and seeds. You are generally cautioned not to consume the seed because it is hard, bitter, and often poisonous. Even if you are a messy eater – like parakeets – you will spit out the seed, drop it to the ground – and sprout. Here we have unboxing and courier service in one! Grain-eating birds (munias and finches) are content with seeds, but Mother Nature makes sure there is more than enough for future generations to thrive.

Pick up insects and other creepy crawlers. Have you ever seen a butterfly hatch (unwrap) itself from its chrysalis? I waited hours to do it, and it was worth it every time.

Ranjit Lal Nature has perfected unboxing (Source: Ranjit Lal)

First of all, the chrysalis will give you a clue, probably unwrapped early the next morning: you can often see the butterfly coiled up inside the chrysalis now transparent envelope. Sure, you might have to wait awhile, but after a series of convulsive heaves, the chrysalis opens up and this beautiful, newly born creature comes out and crawls to the nearest perch so it can hang its wings. to dry and stiffen. . Most insects that transform from larva to adult accomplish this miracle, the result of mind-blowing hormonal technology. The ugly yellow spider-wasp worm will kiss the anesthetized little spider it was laid on like an egg and carefully suck out all the nutrients (vital parts last) before moving on to the next and eventually turning into a nymph, inside which a new brilliant midnight blue and emerald wasp is formed and “unwrapped” at the right time.

The hatching of each bird egg is an unboxing miracle. In many cases, what is “unwrapped” is a scrawny little pink eyesore, all open, while still having gaping, pimply skin and hair – but each baby bird has a special temporary “egg tooth” at the end of its body. spout, with which it is unpacked.

ranjit lal, sunday eye Mare in labor (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The ultimate in “unboxing” is, of course, the “unboxing” of their mothers’ babies! Again, messy and noisy (only in our species) but generally the end result – albeit skinny and screaming – is well worth it! Animal moms have their babies quietly and without fuss (bellowing, bleating or roaring when “unpacking” would attract predators to their feet) and clean them up right away so that the little thing jumps on all fours as soon as possible. Some require considerable amounts of TLC and are very unstable on their pins initially.

A tree “unwraps” its leaves when the weather changes, gently: it senses what is coming and stops the supply of nutrients. The leaf, too, cooperates by sending its nutrients to the roots to store them for the winter and no longer makes its own food. He’s starving, even though he’s at his best now. Sounds cruel, but shrivelling with frostbite could be worse. The mothership lets go, and the shiny gold / scarlet leaf floats gently to the earth. The flower petals unfold with slow beauty.

ranjit lal, sunday eye Germination of blue bean seed to seedling (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The seeds “unwrap” in multiple ways: some explode from their pods like little bombs, scattering far and wide; some actually need fire to set them off! Others use lace parachutes or drone-type propellers; many are simply swallowed and left in a more nutrient-rich environment or clinging to furry bodies. Each child must have, at some point, placed black-eyed beans (gnawed) on a damp cotton plate and watched with marvelous eyes the first pale leaves unroll from a seed as hard as a pistol pellet. air.

ranjit lal, sunday eye Flower pavement (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nature has perfected unboxing. As we struggle to open a can of tuna without lacerating or stabbing ourselves with can cutters, we need to carefully consider how she does it. These bhakts of our national policy Killjoy, responsible for this armored and sadistic packaging, say it is to make the items vandal proof and child proof. Vandals and children, however, easily pass through the tightly sealed tusks. It’s you and I who are left to swear, sucking on our bloody thumbs and spliced ​​hand straps.

(Ranjit Lal is an author, environmentalist, and ornithologist.)

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