Book Learning

Wednesday, January 27, 2022

(Jan. “Wolf Moon” is Waning Crescent; New Moon on Jan. 31; Feb. “Snow Moon” rises fullest on 16th.)

A coworker held out her bare arm to show me space for her planned tattoo. From elbow to wrist and around her arm would wrap a dense forest. She loves forests and visualizes more of the tattoo. Continuing upwards, the forest top would become a Phoenix covering her shoulder and neck. She showed me a couple of favorite Phoenix images on her cellphone.

As I tried to imagine a bare arm covered with so much ink, she added that she was dissatisfied with the forest’s bottom. It ends at her wrist and too abruptly.

I wondered if she’s aware of a modern view of forest undergrounds, adding that forestry recently has found that beneath trees is another whole world of life. To her blank expression, I said it’s been found that fungi and tree roots communicate, share nutrients, and offer mutual protection. She shook her head, saying she was interested.

That wasn’t a situation where I wanted to risk appearing intellectual. I offered that knowing a little about an underground world might suggest more art for her wrist. I offered to find a summary of the findings. When she said she didn’t read much, I promised to keep it brief.

I checked the internet for brief, uncomplicated descriptions, finding none. The best words are from Suzanne Simard, the scientist who did the groundwork. Simard discovered and proved that “trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complex, interdependent circle of life.” That “forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks, by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not [very] different from our own.”

The introduction to Simard’s book FINDING THE MOTHER TREE describes all that readably and could enlighten my coworker. I have copied and will take the introduction to her. It could add inspiration to her vision.

I am careful that the young people working with me don’t question my respect for what they know. They’re bright, and some outrank me in the organization. I pedal around practicing being silent or maybe gently adding to their knowledge.

Dear Friends: Modern education differs wholly from formal schooling in my day. Diana

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