The Blue Atlas Cedar
By Jackson Blum
Please glimpse upon this tall tree standing here
It is not native; it came from Tangier
The Brit P.B. Web considered it grand
And imported it out of the foreign land
Its expansion was man-driven, even a bit frantic
Spreading from Africa to Europe, then across the Atlantic
The magnificent Blue Atlas cedar, it deserved to be seen
It’s always on the clock, since it’s an evergreen
In the tree’s first years, it remains quite small
Be patient; it’s in for the long haul
First it grows tall, reaching up for sunshine
Then it expands, pyramidal time
Scan around at this place it has long grown
The Blue Atlas cedar stands here alone
Sinking its roots deeper, free of competition
Achieving arboreal excellence is its greater mission
I place my hand on the rough bark
Thinking, if I were Noah, I’d bring three on the ark
My fingers feel the needles, sharp and thin
Forests, unlike man, are free from all sin
To stand in this shadow, I’d go out of my way
As this mighty tree always brightens my day
Then I remark, with a smile, not a sob
“Thank you, Cedrus atlantica, for doing your job.”
How George the Spore Met His Other Half: Still a Better Love Story than Twilight
Once upon a time, on a blue atlas cedar far, far away, there lived a little pollen grain named George the Spore. George was a happy little pollen grain, who lived in a cozy little staminate cone with all of his many brothers, as well as the father microsporocytes. Yes, there were only dads, but we live in a progressive society, so that’s okay.
George was an adventurous pollen grain, but there wasn’t much to see or do in the microsporangium that he called home. One day, when he was particularly sick of hanging out with his brothers, he decided to pay a visit to the oldest and wisest father microsporocyte. (This microsporocyte was so old because he lacked an enzyme for meiosis, which prevented him from turning into a tetrad of haploid microspores.)
“O Wise One,” said George, “What is the meaning of life?”
The Wise One adjusted his nonexistent spectacles and said, “George, dear child, some say there is no meaning of life. Others say the meaning of life is to find the meaning of life. But let me tell you a secret: you have a purpose.”
“I do?” asked George.
“You do,” said the Wise One. “Come with me. I have something to show you.”
So little George tottered behind the elder until they reached the very edge of their pollen scale. This was also the very edge of George’s world.
“Take a look, George.”
George peered over the top and gasped. The view outside was beautiful: not far away, the blue-green needles of the cedar were rustling quietly in the wind. Beyond them, the blue, blue sky stretched as far as he could see.
“This is your destiny. Your purpose is to leave this cone and find your other half. Do you accept this challenge?”
This all sounded very vague to George. “Sure, but how?” he asked the Wise One.
“It will be a long and arduous journey, son,” the Wise One replied. “You might get lost. You might face obstacles. But you will find her. I believe in you.”
George was baffled, but before he could ask another question, a strong gust of wind lifted him right off the cone, and suddenly he was plummeting to the earth.
“Ahh!” screamed George. “I’m too young to die! I haven’t even fulfilled my purpose yet!”
To George’s surprise, it seemed that an omniscient being–perhaps the author of his story–heard this plea. He was falling slower and slower, heading toward a furry brown mass. He braced himself for impact, but there was no need. The surface he landed on was soft and warm and still.
“Now what?” asked George. He was in a jungle of tall brown fibers, impossible to maneuver. With a sigh, he closed his eyes. There was nothing he could do, so he decided to take a rest and started to doze.
An indeterminate time later, he was awoken by a deafening, “WOOF!”
Abruptly the mass beneath him began to shiver and shake, tipping sideways until George found himself sliding off the vertical precipice and into the air. Not this again, he thought to himself.
The next moment, he was being carried up, up, wheeling toward the sun. Is this all that life is? he wondered to himself. Riding on the winds of chance? Is there even free will?!
Unfortunately for him, the answer to the last question was no, but chance was good to young George, and he alighted on an ovulate cone not long after. Conveniently, the cone also belonged to a blue atlas cedar. Realizing that the integument was the obstacle that he had to surmount, he shimmied his way into an opening: the micropyle. There, his body began to change, and a pollen tube started to emerge from his skin. This was very scary for George, because no one had ever talked to him about puberty.
But in his moment of greatest distress, he remembered back to the conversation he’d had with the Wise One. He had accepted the challenge, he reminded himself, so he had no choice now but to be patient and open-minded.
He waited and waited, because pollen tube growth takes awhile, but at last his patience was rewarded!
On the other side, his other half was waiting: Megan, the megagametophyte.
“What took you so long?” she asked.
“Does it really matter?” said George.
Then their sperm and egg united, and everyone lived happily ever after.