We look across Boundary Pass and see the dark grey forms of Stuart, Waldron, and Orcas Islands. The San Juans. The United States of America. And it happens, on the day I write this, our friends on the other side are facing big decisions about who they are and who they want to lead their country. The U.S. election is upon them.
I had set out to write about mycelial networks and a fascinating new book I’ve just finished. It’s called Entangled Life by U.K. mycologist Merlin Sheldrake. As I read it, I realized I could never look at plant life on the planet in quite the same way again. Everything, Sheldrake says, is connected, fed and informed by mycelial root systems underground.
Mind-blowing in itself, but they may also say something to our friends to the south, casting votes in the election of their lives.
Welcome to the Wood-Wide Web!
Mycelial networks are familiarly called the “Wood-Wide Web.”
Mushrooms are part of these mycelia, but they are merely the networks’ fruiting bodies, like apples on a tree. Yet those fruiting bodies are supported by unseen root networks many times larger and more widespread than we might assume.
Did you know that lichens that grow on rocks and trees are not one organism but two? They’re a symbiotic relationship between an alga and fungus. They are quite different organisms that thrive as one but can’t exist without the other.
Sheldrake, incidentally, is only 32 years old and has a Ph.D. in tropical ecology from Cambridge University. He is fascinated with the filigreed coast of British Columbia because of its lichen formations.
Rich web of relationships
Of course, Sheldrake delves into fungal psychedelics, such as psilocybin and LSD, as effective therapeutic medicines for depression and PTSD. They work because they can blur the boundaries of the self, he says. This gives people the feeling of merging with something greater than themselves, expanding their universe of possibilities. Instead of staying trapped in the individual “I,” he says we might start to think of ourselves as part of a dynamic network, embedded in a rich web of relationships.
Entangled Life is a book that has altered the way I look at the forests and wildlife of our world. It’s changed my assumptions about where one biological entity ends, and another one begins.
The Trump base and all the rest
So, for the past four years, we’ve heard about the 40 percent of Americans that form the “Trump Base.” The other 60 percent are either indifferent to Trump or vehemently opposed. Is it possible this once-great nation “under God” can be so polarized as to be tearing apart at its seams?
Every election I’ve observed or taken part in has brought out the divisions in people. What I think may be critical to our country’s future is scoffed at by another who has a different idea. It’s remarkable how friends and family can find themselves, surprisingly and uncomfortably, on opposite sides of an issue.
And one thing true about Trump is that he fans those divisions in the U.S. relentlessly. But I fail to see how the citizenry can be so divided as the media depicts. It’s not just rural vs. urban or male vs. female, it’s educated vs. educated, white vs. white or brother Smith vs. sister Smith.
Like the mycelial networks described in Sheldrake’s book, there may be deeper connections between us and those on the other side of the spectrum that we find so difficult to understand. That we may be connected somehow by unseen networks in places, we have not yet looked. These connections may allow us to exchange sustenance, compassion, and understandings that nurture us rather than divide us.
And that no matter what the outcome of the election tonight and over the next few days, there may be hope for healing, harmony, and a deeper understanding of who we all are.
Cinnamon-Raisin bread, an enduring Happy Monk favourite. And here’s proof of Mildrith’s (the wood-fired oven) recent health check, as she just baked 41 loaves of this (and another 40 of Seed Feast) with lots of heat left to spare. Long live Mildrith and long live Cinnamon-Raisin bread!
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Happy Monk Tidings - September 2, 2022 🍞 - Baker's Choice : Volkornbrot (German Rye); Blog: The Golden Loaf of Gorsefield Rye; NOTE: We're closing two weeks for Mildrith Maintenance [ See LinkTree in Profile ]...
It was a dirty day, Wednesday. The sky hadn't been washed, the ocean was soiled, and the air was muggy and smelled oily. Then, moments before the rain started, the sun shone through and a glorious slash of colour opened up. And a rainbow! No unicorns, sadly....
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This is James Morton, my father, who would have been 100 years old today if we hadn't lost him 36 years ago. I've surpassed him in living age and spent more years without him than with him, yet he still whispers in my ear and is a great listener when I talk to him. Taken at 14th Ave. and Burgess St., Burnaby, 'round about 1955. Handsome devil, ain't he?...