I recently read Fractal Patterns. It was initially an assignment for a creative activism course during my post-grad degree and let me tell you, I was not excited about this assignment at all. At first. The assignment was simple enough, go outside, observe nature, and notice patterns. Essentially. Specifically fractal patterns.
What are Fractal Patterns?
A fractal is a never-ending pattern. Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales – Google
The idea was, to find the beauty, the extraordinary, and the creativity in nature. There was no specific way to observe mystical or natural patterns so I went at it like I do almost everything, with little to no plan or strategy. Just what my own two feet and two less-than-perfect eyes can muster. Let the wind take its course.
Natural patterns, those we find in nature, are a lot harder to distinguish or self-categorize as shapes. I found that in my journey walking about the yard in my childhood home where lots of trees, plants, and flowers exist together, I tended to dismiss patterns and fractals that weren’t as clear to my passing, seldom observant eye. Almost like the phenomenon of being aware of the water we swim in, I found myself blinded by all that surrounded me. I don’t know what I was expecting, but nothing felt special or new. The lemon tree and the orange tree were the same as I’d remembered them as a child. There were new plants I hadn’t seen before, like the mini avocado tree and an apple tree that was in full bloom. The tomatoes, as my mom had mentioned, stopped developing due to the recent change to colder temperatures. There were some flowers, but not a lot. It reminded me how different this time of year (late autumn) is from that of spring or summer, where nature is much more colorful.
During my walk in this space of nature, well, manipulated nature, I stopped to notice the leaves and branches stemming from the tall trees that were so heavy they began to hang low, just at my shoulders, dragged by the heavy lemons and oranges. The patterns in the leaves were skeletal. I imagined bony fingers reaching out to fill the edges of the leaf, and then I imagined the leaf as a full body, rather than a part of a bigger whole. The patterns there were familial.
I struggled to find shapes in the wet dirt below. There was a lot of grass, but also some rocks made of the same dirt and some cement that created a path to walk on. I struggled to find patterns in that, but I can’t help to think that maybe it was just my lack of imagination or my state of mind at the moment.
Two things I focused mostly on were flowers. I found two different flowers, both colorful – one a strong peach and one a bright yellow. They bloomed with color and were filled with petals. I looked at them closely and was reminded of just how many petals it actually takes to complete one full, wildflower. The petals are very small. One pattern I noticed was in the petals closest to the center. Those were smaller than every petal preceding it. And that pattern continued a few times. The peach flower was actually made up of many individual flowers all bunched together in one main stem. I counted about 12 flowers into 1 flower bunch, which to the human eye itself, looks like just one flower. I then began to notice how every leaf is made up of similar patterns, just like the petal, which alone could not make an entire leaf. And which alone could not make a tree.
Speaking of patterns, hehe, I noticed a pattern yesterday in the film Practical Magic (1998) starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. In the movie, the siblings were always paired with two women: one brunette, and the other with red hair. The brunette young girl never desired to fall in love, while the redhead always did. And that pattern continued. Then that same brunette young girl will grow up to have two daughters, one brunette and one with red hair, continuing the pattern of the brunette not liking the idea of falling in love, while the red-head girl always does. And so on. Once I realized this pattern, I envisioned it as a branch, just like the ones I saw in nature.
Patterns are crazy, but what’s crazier is nature. As wild as she is, she’s strategic and organized. All working together for the same outcome, wild perfection.
Gotta love her.