A slippery lip

Yesterday the swans at Lake Waban were uncooperative, dipping their heads under water whenever I tried to photograph them from shore. Luckily, plants aren’t as shy as swans, and the greenhouse at Wellesley College is full of photogenic Old World pitcher plants with their slippery, insect-luring lips.

The Old World pitcher plants my friend Ji Hyang Sunim and I saw at the Wellesley Greenhouse yesterday belong to the genus Nepenthes and differ from New World pitcher-plants of the family Sarraceniaceae. Whereas New World pitcher plants are terrestrial, Old World pitchers grow in trees and dangle their traps at the end of thin tendrils. Both varieties of carnivorous plants, though, lure their insectivorous lunch with long, liquid-filled “pitchers” with downward-pointing grooves or hairs: the whole point of a pitcher plant’s design is to lure an insect down, down, down where it will be inevitably trapped and consumed.

Lately I haven’t been writing much, and I haven’t taken many photos, either. Instead, I’m standing on the slippery lip between the face-to-face semester that’s already ended and the online term that runs through Sunday. I have last week’s online grading to complete before diving into this weekend’s final exams and end-term calculations; with online grades due Tuesday night, I’ll be working through much of the holiday even though my mind is already on vacation, relishing the fact that most of my grades are submitted and consequently balking at the prospect of finishing one last bit.

Life is feeling a bit slippery these days as I’m sliding, slouching, and slipping toward Tuesday’s final grading deadline; apologies if I’m not around much in the meantime.