Another hot humid day. Last evening thunderstorms came close but did not bring rain. We had brief rains a couple of days last week, but again not enough to break the drought. This summer storms approach in a line, then break apart, and pass either side of us.
The morning birdsong is much reduced so that even the dawn chorus is but a muted version of its earlier self, and that self is greatly reduced from just thirty years ago.
What rain and fog we have received has brought out the mushrooms, which are the fruiting bodies of mycelia, the large underground structures of fungi. Mycelia may stretch for vast distances, and help trees communicate with one another through complex systems of interconnected plants, fungi, and bacteria. Like most of the living world, things in the forest, or on the lawn, are more complex than they seem.
We are in a historical moment pitting visions of complexity against a desire to ignore or reject the sometimes overwhelming richness of things. Complexity, and diversity for that matter, are inconvenient and messy, resisting our human urge to just figure it out and get on with it. Just getting on with it lies, of course, at the very heart of much contemporary agriculture and forestry, and beyond that, the entire colonial project.
I often think we would prefer to have the world organized nicely, with remarkably little out of place. I once knew a retired Canadian army officer who each day raised his Canadian flag, saluted it, then mowed the small lawn are in front of his town house. He would then take a pair of scissors and, on hands and knees, carefully trim any offending bits of grass that dared stand taller than their neighbors.
Our dreams of order inevitably collide with the real workings of the world. Nature is interwoven, mutually dependent, ritualized chaos that yields a mysterious deep order. Our brains mirror this, making metaphors of computation haplessly inadequate.
Still, our minds reach for order and system in their endless search for meaning. Metaphors provide very rough road maps for our lives, offering approximations that spin narratives and encourage us to grasp moments of shared organization and experience, if only we allow ourselves to expand our definitions of kinship.
Yet, for some, complexity and diversity seem to open chasms of awe and terror, from which they shy away, or run screaming. Surly may of us have shared these moments when we realize our exceedingly small place in the enormity of the cosmos. I often wonder what allows some to return to the brink, contemplate the vastness, and discover kinship and beauty.
I wonder, what has allowed you to tarry there, at the brink of that vastness?