Explorers

I stand in awe of the little dandelion. She is a wonder of evolution. Each plant is composed of may flowers or florets grouped together in a composite head to create the yellow flower we’re all familiar with. The dandelion doesn’t reproduce sexually–no birds and bees involved here. For the dandelion pollination is not required for reproduction, rather each seed develops asexually and is an exact genetic copy of the parent plant. What really excites me about the dandelion though is that she’s an explorer at heart. Driven by the wind, each seed sets out on what could be a most incredible journey. It’s not unusual for these little ships to travel 10 miles with a good wind in their sails. They’ve even crossed mountain ranges to settle a new world on the other side.

I have a special place in my heart for those who dare to explore, to discover, to sail uncharted waters, to boldly go where no one has gone before. From our earliest days some among us were different, not content with sitting in one place they took our species’ first tentative steps out of Africa. Thousands of years later when they ran out of land they began the human love-affair with oceanic exploration. Over the centuries these intrepid explorers searched the far corners of the earth and slowly gave shape to the world. When we ran out of earth and sea an extraordinary group of people set their sights on the unthinkable–space. By 1969 a man named Neil Armstrong took humankind’s first steps on another heavenly body. While these feats clearly required great bravery and passion, some of the best discovery comes from exploration that tests the limits of the human mind. In the 1940s two men, Alfred Blalock and Viven Thomas, walked where no one else had trodden. They aren’t as famous as Armstrong, Scott or Drake but they are no less significant. Together they worked crushingly long hours to develop a surgical technique and devices that might save babies born with congenital heart defects. After years of work that included inventing devices never before conceived, they entered the operating suite on November 29, 1944 and did what many thought immoral and most thought impossible; they performed a corrective cardiac surgery on a baby. The Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt would go on to save countless babies with congenital heart defects and though modified, it is still in use today. Eight years ago it saved a pretty special life–my son’s.

To the explorers! You take us new and exciting places. You inspire us with your spirit. You move us forward and make us better today than we were yesterday. You save the lives of those we hold most dear. You are the very best among us.

To learn more about Blalock and Thomas and their incredibly improbable journey take some time to watch HBO’s Something The Lord Made–it’s available on DVD on Amazon. The inspiration for the movie, a 1989 article written by Katie McCabe and published in the Washingtonian, is available here as a PDF–Like Something The Lord Made

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15 Comments

  1. Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm by Brenda | Permalink

    Your image and post have made me reconsider the lowely dandelion – from scourge of our lawns to adaptable explorer.

    Something the Lord Made is an incredible movie about incredible medical pioneers. How amazing that the strides these men made saved your son’s life.

  2. Posted November 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm by faisal | Permalink

    gorgeous!

  3. Posted November 30, 2012 at 12:02 am by Klaus | Permalink

    Wow, so amazing, well done Christopher!!

  4. Posted November 30, 2012 at 3:42 am by Doug Hickok | Permalink

    This little flower is robust too… when we were out West this summer, we found dandelions in temperate city parks, desert canyons and at the highest altitudes above tree level. And here’s to a great image that celebrates exploration, and a world of discoveries in science that help save lives! It is a good time to be alive :^)

  5. Posted November 30, 2012 at 4:01 am by yz | Permalink

    love this tiny “alternative universe”

  6. Posted November 30, 2012 at 7:33 am by sherri | Permalink

    yes, they’re exquisite little creatures. when i was a child it seemed the ultimate sin to blow the seeds into the air. as if the wind wouldn’t take them:-) i still did it though because i couldn’t resist their mesmerizing beauty.

  7. Posted November 30, 2012 at 11:15 am by joshi daniel | Permalink

    beautiful and a perfect black and white :)

  8. Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:30 am by george | Permalink

    A nicely shot image of a frequently unloved flora, but a wonderful allegory about some unsung heroes of special significance to you – and your family.

    History is littered with men and women who have made great strides in helping life to progress whilst remaining unrecognised. I guess they are the real heroes, driven by a desire to help – rather than ego.

  9. Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:21 am by rian | Permalink

    true true.. but as much as i want to be an actual explorer, in this day and age, i share in the experience the actual explorers get to do in the comfort of my couch.. ;D

  10. Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:41 pm by Roland Theys | Permalink

    A very nice photo!

  11. Posted December 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm by Will | Permalink

    Every day we can learn something new, today, thanks to you, I learned a little bit more about dandelions and the Blalock-Thomas-Taussig shunt. So glad to hear that the adventures of Blalock and Thomas led to a path where your son and the son’s and daughters of many others owe their lives to those who worked hard and went where no-one has been before. The world is indeed a better place because of them.

  12. Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm by fabrizio | Permalink

    technically a spendid idea with a perfect result, an intriguing use of levels with a lightness tonality, fantastic Chris!!!

  13. Posted December 7, 2012 at 6:44 am by Peter knight | Permalink

    Wonderful picture – really pleased I have discovered your blog!

  14. Posted December 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm by tom | Permalink

    I like the composition. Perfect how the geometry of the sun repeats itself with the flower.

  15. Posted January 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm by Kevin | Permalink

    A magical shot !

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