Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Fact and Fallacy, and How They Can Change: "Ten Thousand Years Ago, A Lemming"

 The most awesome thing about this story: "Scientists in Russia have grown plants from fruit stored away in permafrost by squirrels over 30,000 years ago" (from the BBC, via , via Instapundit),  is that it is one more confirmation of how hardy living things are, how well the Life in our world is protected to assure there will ALWAYS be Life.  Life is abundant and miraculous, and we don't know the half of it.

Caution is warranted, as such finds in past have later shown by carbon dating to have been more modern seeds, buried at Pleistocene levels by modern animals  -  even in burrows that actually did date from the Pleistocene era, and that contained legitimate remains 10,000 years ago!  But we didn't know until 2009 that the oldest viable seeds of proven age are 2000 years old.

40-odd years ago, scientists planted lupine seeds recovered from the permafrost, and they grew.  30-odd years  ago, Nicolas asked a question that led me to write a poem about ancient seeds. 20-odd years ago, it was published in Thistles Magazine. Here it is, in honor of today's version of old, old, news. See if you can spot some other "facts" from when it was written 30 years ago have since been proven inaccurate.*

 Ten thousand years ago, a lemming
hid a hoard of flower seeds
against the arctic dark and rushed
headlong into the sea, or else forgot,
and left his cache of lupine seeds
buried in the permafrost
and time and time and time went by.
Someone dug them up from the cold that never thaws,
found his pantry full of flower seeds,
found the makings of a garden,
from ten thousand years ago
and planted the lemming's hoard again,
in rows like all good lemmings,
lined up against the ocean wall,
spread sunshine on the earth
and sprinkled water.

And the seeds grew.

Blossomed, and made new seeds.

Perhaps ten thousand years ago,
lemmings didn't make the leap
of faith and death into the icy sea,
or the seeking consequence of suicide
chill human consciousness.
Ten thousand years ago we had no Bomb,
no star-hung missles,
no seeping milleniaic poisons.
Little Nicolas says, about the grass,
growing through cracks in the pavement:
"Life is stronger than anything."

Tina Howard

*The truth (based on current knowledge) about a few other fallacies that were believed or theorized 30 years ago (and still to this day are taught):
(1) The "Atomic Bomb", horrific at detonation, has not been the terror we were led to believe, but instead has since been held, wisely, as a deterrent rather than a weapon. To this day, the most devastating effects of war come from sheer brutality and from more conventional weapons;
(2) Concrete bunkers do indeed offer individuals some protection against the effects of nuclear weapons;
(3) The Theory of Nuclear Winter not only did not occur when these weapons were used, but has become highly debatable (and was abandoned for an even sillier theory called Global Warming, now renamed Climate Change)
(4)  Nuclear Power accidents have proven - even as recently as this past year in Japan, as well as long term studies on Chernoble - to be far less dangerous than estimated, with outrageously shorter time periods for natural decontamination than were estimated at the time of the disasters;
(5) Lemmings may or may not dash over the cliffs by the thousands.
(6) We learn much in the course of our lives - and especially, if we are wise, we will learn how to change our minds, and think things through more carefully.
(7) The last sentence is still true, and always will be, because God created Life, and made His lively creations stronger than the inanimate elements around them.


  1. Seeds were created in the beginning to bring forth and even long frozen ones can do that, but you are right to take such reports with caution, checking the facts where available.

    I am reminded of Genesis 3:15 - The "Seed" of the Woman died and rose from the grave, passing through the heavens to the Father and leading His followers in His train.

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  3. Hi Alice! When I saw the report of 30,000 year old seeds, I thought this was a good time to post my old poem - it was only when I went looking for the original report on the 10,000 year old seeds that I learned that carbon dating has been reevaluated again (those dating systems seem awfully nebulous over time...).

    The things we are taught in school, the way events are reported, the "discoveries" of science, all vary in interpretation as time goes by. It's only God's word, and God's reality that never changes.

    I love the image your comment evokes: "the "Seed" of the Woman died and rose from the grave, passing through the heavens to the Father and leading His followers in His train." Coupled with your own post on Genesis 3:15, it gives me something wonderful to meditate on.

    Thank you for commenting. You are such a blessing to your readers!

  4. Thank you very much, Ma'am! :-)



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