I have a really keen sense of smell, which is a good thing since I love to smell stuff, or maybe it’s the other way around, I love to smell things because I can.
However, one of the plants on my deck seems to have no smell that I can discern, even sniffing really deeply. At least the flowers don’t. They are lavender-colored and thickly arrayed in elongated clusters along the top of each stalk. I have sniffed and sniffed at them but no flower scent molecules rise to my nose. I know the plant’s in the mint family (square stem, flower clusters in the axils), but no scent except in the leaves.
Big dumb old human nose! My “scentless” plant is alive with bees! At least two kinds! From early morning until dusk these bees arrive at my deck and head straight for the clusters of tiny purple flowers. Meticulously they check each flower row for pollen, often carefully circling round the flower head and examining each weeny little flower in turn. They pay no attention to any of the other, brightly-colored flowers on the deck, several of which have powerful scents. At least they do for me.
Obviously their universe, so much smaller than mine (big clumsy object that I am), fizzes with potent smells which command their presence. Their dexterous tiny parts are perfectly constructed to explore what they must. Industriously they pack pollen grains (so small I would need to use a magnifier to perceive them) into the minute baskets on their hinders.
I’m not even sure they see me. If they do see me they do not perceive me as something to which they must attend. I am too big for that. They have come to the call of a universe that is nested within mine, just as my human-sized universe is nested within a very much larger, and thus pretty much unnoticeable, universe.
So—is it universes all the way down?? All the way up?? Down to…?? Up to…??