sunset in the tropics

I was so struck by this description of watching the sun wane through the forest in eastern Amazonia that I just had to share. E.O Wilson is an ecologist blessed with an amazing gift for rendering what most of us consider to be insignificant details of the world into beautiful, potent truths.

“At Berhnardsdorp the sun passed behind a small cloud and the woodland darkened. For a moment all that marvelous environment was leveled and subdued. The sun came out again and shattered the vegetative surfaces into light-based niches. They included intensely lighted leaf tops and the tops of miniature canyons cutting vertically through tree bark to create shadowed depths two or three centimeters below. The light filtered down from above as it does in the sea, giving out permanently in the lowermost recesses of buttressed tree trunks and penetralia of the soil and rotting leaves. As the light’s intensity rose and fell with the transit of the sun, silverfish, beetles, spiders, bark lice, and other creatures were summoned from their sanctuaries and retreated back in alternation. They responded according to rerceptor thresholds built into their eyes and brains, filtering devices that differ from one kind of animal to another. By such inborn controls the species imposed a kind of prudent self-discipline.”

— In Biophilia, by E.O. Wilson– an ecologist, entomologist, professor and acclaimed science writer

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