A while back a visitor at the Hacienda reached into her pocket, pulled out a little box, and removed from it some flower seeds a lady at another hotel had given her. I planted them, they soon germinated, and for maybe two months I've been watching the plants -- more than once shooing big, hungry Black Iguanas from them -- and this week the first bud opened into the pretty little Cosmos flower shown at the top of this page.

For me the blossom evokes lots of associations: The lady who gave the seeds to me, the iguana chases, my many visits to the plants wondering which flower bud would open first, time spent watching the plants' ferny leaves quietly soak up mid afternoons' scorching sunlight while I imagined the rush of photosynthesis taking place inside each leaf, visualized the leaves snatching untold billions of carbon dioxide molecules from the air -- many from my very breath -- the captured carbon dioxide molecules inside the leaves' intensely green-glowing mesophyll splitting and reconfiguring with other atoms to form carbohydrate, while currents of pure, life-enabling oxygen streamed through the leaves' stomata into the shimmering air around us.

Of course, the Cosmoses weren't doing anything that all other green plants also were doing. However, the Cosmoses had my attention in a special way. You could say that I had become enchanted with them... maybe in a childlike way, or maybe just in the way you become enchanted with any being, once you really start paying attention to them. Those plants had become friends.

In fact, one afternoon when it was beginning to cool down I sat with my chair next to the first flower and I thought: What if a cute little tourist-girl came by and wanted to pluck this flower for her hair? I wouldn't let her take it. It would be like plucking the head off someone close to me.

It was a funny thought, but it got me thinking further in the same vein.

And that further thought was nudged along by recalling that the Six Miracles of Nature concept outlined at teaches that the Universe evolves toward ever higher states of understanding and feeling. In that light, my empathy with the Cosmoses was harmonious with the general flow of the Universe, and that, I thought, was Good.

But -- then I thought -- if everyone developed intense empathy for all living things, eventually wouldn't the most exquisitely evolved/refined among us grow unable to kill fellow creatures to eat them, or even to pay others to kill for them? Might not then everyone not only become vegetarians, but also cease to eat harvested grain, algae or any vegetative tissue at all, simply being unable to continence the thought of chewing and swallowing organisms that had been killed for them? Could it be that the Universe is programmed so that beings with the most matured mentality develop such overwhelming states of empathy with other living things that at some point they stop eating the foods their ancestors evolved to eat, and voluntarily disappear in what could be called a nirvana of profound love for all living things, and self-denial?

At this thought I shook my head, stood up and began preparing for the four o'clock walk through the Hacienda grounds. Really, what good does it do to see advancing shadows of self-annihilation in a bowl of crunchy granola topped with banana slices and yogurt?

Again I shook my head, gave a last glance at the first Cosmos blossom of the season, and wandered off to meet my tourists, and maybe later end the day with a nice bowl of crunchy granola.