Patterns in Nature

Here are some photos I’ve taken over the years of something that is rather fascinating to me: patterns found in nature. Wikipedia has a great resource on these

Although patterns are found almost everywhere you look, these particular patterns are caused in a specific way and in a few places, so they are rather uncommon, maybe you could even call them rare. Looking at the photos, of which I have included just a few here, you see there is not much context, intentionally. That way, you are forced to focus on the appearance of the patterns.

Nevertheless, here are the details. If you look closely, you might get a few clues that this is on a sidewalk, and you would be close. This particular set of pattern photos were all taken on the northern section of Aldridge Creek Greenway in south Huntsville. Basically, they are the result of rain water flowing and drying over the rough concrete, yet so many factors come into play here. To mention several, it depends on:

  • Overall volume of rainfall
  • Rate of rainfall
  • The content of the rainwater flowing over the concrete (more sediment is better)
  • Time since rainfall
  • Surface texture of the concrete pathway
  • Slope of the pathway (very slight)
  • Debris already on the pathway before the rain
  • Openness of the pathway, or at least few trees nearby
  • Stronger wind during and after the rain may have an interesting effect

As you can imagine, I was quite fortunate to come upon these patterns at first. I soon learned to recognize the conditions and so I can now maximize my chances of finding such patterns again. What I look for is the following.

  • A rainfall of maybe 1 or 2 inches the previous evening or during the night, which is over by morning.
  • A broad pathway, such as the 10-foot wide greenways in Huntsville.
  • A slight slope to the pathway, which I’ve not yet understood the cause-and-effect, but I see it needs to be slightly sloped.
  • Roughness of the concrete. Asphalt doesn’t seem to give results due to its smoothness, I think. Fortunately, all greenway concrete seems to have that required amount of roughness.

My favorite place to look for these is on the Aldridge Creek Greenway from Green Mountain Road to the current terminus of the greenway about a mile north.

If you’re interested, I have a larger set of photos on my photography portfolio in the album titled “Patterns & Textures”.

About Phill Gibson

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama where I work as a Software Engineer and part-time banjo instructor. My wife Miiko and I worship at Rivertree Downtown. I've been playing various instruments since my teen years. I started mandolin and dulcimer at about age 17 and banjo at 20. I love just about all kinds of music. In terms of banjo styles, I play and teach Scruggs, melodic, clawhammer, and 2-finger styles. I'm also very keen on theology, being a Trail Care Partner with the Land Trust of North Alabama, photography, urban planning, architecture, astronomy, ATM (amateur telescope making), birding, martial arts, and about 30 other distracting hobbies to a (mercifully) lesser extent.
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