Deeds of gallantry were accomplished in an “age of lace, logic, blood and bigotry;” thus Tyler Whittle gets at the English contribution to botany in the 17th Century in his delightful tale of botanist-explorers, Plant Hunters.

While botanist Young John was working on his catalogue as the King’s Garderner, Charles the First was losing his head outside the garden wall.

So knowledge may be filched from a season of chaos, and beauty from violence.

We see this in the arts. Frida Kahlo began painting after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Van Gogh painted “Starry Night,” lonely and crazed. And there is Jacques-Louis David painting through the French Revolution.

People do stuff — gorgeous, gentle, life-giving stuff — even during times of chaos and pain. They garden, paint, write, sing, hum, invent, cook and give care during difficulty, sickness and war.

Within the vagaries of difficulty lie the armamentarium of aesthetics. Pain paints, and it plants a garden too.

Because of this, we should never wait to start finding and making new things. Procrastination — waiting to begin beautiful things until life is post-trauma or post-messy — it’s a fool’s business. Life is never post-messy.

Wisdom will futz through the mud to find a Fragaria muricata, the lovely Plymouth strawberry plant English botanist Old John found in a rubbish dump.

Deeds of gallantry in times of difficulty — these are at the core of every laborious science, craft and art.

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