Experiencing an orange blossom's simple, elegant beauty makes us feel so good that it's easy to believe that the blossom is conveying some kind of message to us. And, it is. It's saying that simplicity and elegance are beautiful, and that experiencing such beauty makes us feel good. However, that's just the beginning of what an orange blossom can say, and this week I've been thinking about those other messages.

For one thing, it's worth reflecting on the matter that flowers of Sweet Orange and Bitter Orange are very similar, yet between the two taxa there are slight but consistent differences. Nature is showing us that it's OK for communities of organisms to be different from one another, even as within those communities individual beings may behave and look alike.

Does this mean that a nation, state, city or neighborhood is right to remain racially, culturally and/or politically "pure"? Here we need to remember that in the first place Sweet and Bitter Orange cultivars exist to satisfy humanity's diversity of tastes and needs. Nature is saying that on a certain level uniformity is acceptable but, on another much broader scale, diversity must prevail. Wise human policy, then, might be to strive for a mosaic of different kinds of communities, in a system where people can live among others like themselves if they want to.

Also it's interesting to remember that today's Sweet Orange and Bitter Orange cultivars arose long ago when humans saw promise in certain wild-growing ancestral orange species, which they selectively bred to get what we have today. When humanity took control of the orange's evolutionary trajectory, the point was made that sometimes when mentality upsets the natural order of things, something good can come from it.

However, that thought comes with a caveat: Allowing mentality to change the natural order of things may be risky, as shown by the fact that if something happens to humanity -- maybe just a shift in what people think tastes good -- newly developed orange cultivars may be threatened or even disappear. Modern orange trees can't survive without human care.

So, it looks like we can go on and on listing orange blossom lessons -- and we haven't even considered the blossoms' fabulous fragrance -- so at this point in my thinking I tried to jump to some kind of final or overarching orange-blossom insight. Here's what I came up with:

The orange blossom's ultimate teaching has nothing to do with the past or future. The orange blossom's most meaningful message to us is that right now a blossom exists, and I'm here experiencing it, thinking about it, feeling for it, and even sharing my sensations and insights with you.

The orange blossom "is" even as we "are," and beyond that, anything said about it might be fun, but not at all necessary.