Our need for routines and patterns is just natural

heart on a fall leaf

I can feel the summer season slowly ebbing into autumn. Cooler mornings and earlier sunsets all tell me that our carefree summer days are limited. Our summer travels are now treasured memories and work projects are winding down, almost complete. Actually, some of the projects never started, but they can wait until next year. 

The second cutting of hay is off the fields, just before a week of rain. Produce is finally ripening at a rapid rate and fall flowers are taking on signature subdued hues. As much as I enjoy summer, I do embrace the impending seasonal change. 

One reason is that I thrive on routine. It’s not just me, my whole family seems to flourish within the rhythm of a routine. After many carefree summer evenings that transitioned into very late mornings, it’s time to embrace the predictability of a routine. 

Patterns in nature

Nature is evidence that we are not alone in the need for predictability. A short hike in the woods and past the garden reveals patterns woven into just about every living thing. Some even say that it is a foundational code woven into the tiniest petals and the vastness of the galaxy. 

The Fibonacci Sequence is a list of numbers that follow the rule that each number is equal to the sum of the two preceding numbers. To put it simply, the next number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 are just the beginning. 

The Golden Ratio is formulated using numbers from the Fibonacci sequence. When two consecutive numbers are divided the ratio is about equal to 1.618. Taking those numbers and sketching squares and rectangles on graph paper creates a spiral. This same spiral can be seen throughout nature. 

Sunflower seeds and pinecones demonstrate the spiral. The next seed fills in the space without completely overlapping the previous spiral or becoming a straight line. 

Flowers and trees

The number of petals on flowers is typically a Fibonacci number. Lilies and irises have three petals; there are five petals on each buttercup. Daisies are one of my favorite flowers. They can have 34, 55, or even 89 petals. 

The growth pattern of tree branches and leaves is a Fibonacci sequence. The pattern, called phyllotaxis, was first observed in 1754 by a naturalist named Charles Bonnet. He showed that the tree branches and leaves had a spiral pattern that could be shown as a fraction. 

The sequence begins in the trunk and then spirals out as the tree grows larger and taller. The pattern begins from the one trunk and then splits into two branches. Then one of the two branches splits into two making three total branches. The pattern continues upward and outward following the Fibonacci sequence.

 Within the arrangement and structure of leaves, the Fibonacci sequence is also present. Plants cannot survive without photosynthesis. Following the sequence, new leaves do not block the sun from older leaves, allowing more leaves to get energy from the sun. This arrangement of leaves also allows rain or dew to fall more directly down to the roots. 

The spiral can also be seen in the nautilus shell, as frequently seen on the cover of math books. That same design is not only in sea creatures, it’s also in the shape of the cochlea in the inner ear. 

Thinking small, the DNA double helix is another example. On a greater scale, the eye of a hurricane is yet another example in nature. 

A shift back to predictable daily patterns feels cozy like my favorite jeans and sweatshirt. A well-worn path was created in our dry, end-of-the-summer grass by my family taking the exact same route every day. Deep in the woods, the same deer trail emerges by the end of summer. 

By the start of September, pumpkin spice everything will be my flavor of choice. Routines and patterns knit us together and innately connect us to nature.


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