Our Earth’s history is still shrouded in many mysteries and I enjoy reading about new ideas that enlighten our intimate relationship with our home planet: about young Earth and its hazy methane atmosphere, about the early oxygen producing organisms that caused the haze to lift and turn the sky blue, and especially about how early life colonized the Earth’s land surface through an ingenious mechanism that connects all life through the water cycle. Life and Earth’s atmosphere evolved together.


The water cycle, such an integral part of our lives that we may forget how special it is, how fragile, our illusive partner we think we know, but still holds some big secrets. When come the clouds? The fluffy ones, the large cumulus ones, water droplets moving up, evaporating from the surface, sticking together in the sky and falling down, precipitating, after having traveled together, moved by winds in artful formations. Clouds keep us cool by blocking the sun’s rays, but also keep us warm by trapping the heat of the sun’s radiation reflecting back from the Earth’s surface. We know quite a bit about the changes that occurred near the Earth’s surface, geology, biology, climatology… but clouds? So important in our water cycle and our atmosphere, yet we know so little about the history of our cloudscape. Ephemerals are hard to grasp, yet crucial to do so if we want to have an idea of where we are going.


Flowers, the other ephemerals, in our time frame at least. We still don’t know much about how they developed either, or how old they are exactly, as the time gets pushed back further to around 209 million years ago, the age of the latest, oldest fossil find. Our modern atmosphere is only a tad older in geologic time, about 290million years ago. What is so special about these flowering plants is that they have intimate relationship with animals that call the atmosphere their home, birds and insects, whizzing and soaring around at multiple levels but coming down to earth to visit their colorful and fragrant fuel sources, in turn helping them to spread their kind. 

We look up, we see blue, we see clouds, we see some or flocks of birds, but we don’t see the millions of insects flying overhead, hitchhiking on the wind, carrying them to greener pastures if they are lucky. If they didn’t become lunch for a passing bird, as food on the wing. It begins to dawn on me, this giant network of migration, hoping to arrive just in time for the opening of the flowers, who in turn do their best to display their best colors and nicest aroma’s to please their visitors who come to feast and help spread the love and without knowing, together provide food for our human kind. 

I look up in the sky, a giant cloud flower is opening up. The Times They Are a-Changin,’ again,