Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa, a member of the rose family) has been in bloom in our area recently.  I first learned about Apache Plume in a nature guide at Dripping Springs, a BLM recreation area in the Organ Mountains.  Nothing was in bloom at the time; I could not guess which plant beside the trail the guide referred to.

Reading that the plant was named for the seed plumes, which look like Apache war bonnets, I pictured something grand.  It was at first a disappointment to discover that the five-petalled white flowers are about 1 ½ inches across.  The seed heads are pink plumes of about the same size.  The pink soon turns brown and the seeds are blown away by the wind.  The plant is beautiful in bloom, in the seed stage or, as here, at half and half.  The season is short: for most of the year all one sees are the small clustered leaves on an often straggly plant.

Who first saw a war bonnet in this small, delicate shape?  Was it someone for whom raids by Native tribes were a real and present danger?  Was it someone who recalled such raids as recent and treasured history?

To see the large in the small requires a certain kind of creativity, a talent for comparison across difference.  To see the small in the large may be an even rarer gift―or perhaps it simply is not mine.  The ability to see similarities in things of different scale is the way of metaphor, an important tool for poets and others who seek to see things in fresh ways.

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