Q: What on Earth?
a) LEED certified shower heads
b) Exhibit at a Dr. Seuss theme park
c) Delicious with baby corn and soy sauce
d) Why must you quiz us so?
A: c and/or d.
The same remarkable organism sometimes looks like this:
...and sometimes looks like this:
We speak, of course, of the mighty sacred lotus, Nelumbo nucifera, the bean of India. Often appearing in Hindu and Buddhist iconography, the lotus springs up from the mud and symbolizes the potential beauty of all life, making it a perfect contender for residence in the NPS's Kenilworth Aquatic Garden , which sits in one of DC's poorest neighborhoods. The Aquatic Gardens, it seems to me, has the highest ratio of awesome-to-unknown of any national park in the district.
I mean, how often do you see something like this west of Rangpur?
But that's not all: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens also has an assortment of water lilies that would make Claude Monet poke himself with a paintbrush.
Though not teeming with locals, the Gardens were populated that day by a busload of Japanese tourists, most of them shaded from the hot sun by umbrellas, which came in handy when hot sun turned into hot rain and poured down upon us.
Some of us got a little droopy...
But the noble bean of India didn't seem to mind.
In fact, their leaves make little pools for small birds and fairies to splash in...
This extreme hydrophobia (stronger than Mr. Whiskers' aversion to the bath) apparently gave rise to the term "lotus effect," which means water beads up and makes the leaves self-cleaning. It seems that science has taken note of this fact, but I'm thinking of practical home decor applications like lotus leaf wallpaper (kitchen? dorm rooms? vomitorium?), or DYI rain hat.
Unlike the staffers and tourists in DC, who get stinky and funk-i-fied in mid- to late summer, the lotus blooms quite happily when the barometer rises. It can stand the heat; perhaps it belongs in the kitchen...?
So next time you're twisted up in yoga class or cruising down the highway in a $70,000 sports car remember the humble origins of Nelumbo nucifera, say a prayer of purity and divine wisdom, and fire up that wok.