Thursday, July 28, 2005

The pitcher plant


The pitcher plant is carnivorous. Tempted by the smell of nectar, an insect walks down into the pitcher-like structure for which the plant is named, where it drowns in fluid and is digested.

As a little girl, Hilary imagined that the insect stayed inside the plant because it was looking at pictures.

On Sunday, my parents and I watched a fly climb into a pitcher plant on our walk through the Saco Heath, a peat bog in Saco, Maine, with moss and sedge and pitch pines and other scrubby trees. Remembering Hilary's story, I imagined that, inside the plant, the fly was proceeding slowly through a gallery of pictures or watching a photo filmstrip or some shifting show of projections through tropical gels, some pixelated flux of animations.

I asked Hilary later what sort of pictures she had taken the plant’s victims to be looking at. As she imagined things, she said, the fly discovered inside the plant a scrolling panoramic landscape of sufficient veracity to convince him that he was still in the world, flying over lakes or lawns or fields of flowers he had known in life.


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