Linda Rand

Pandemic Diaries: Network of Hyphae

(Photo by Linda Rand)

In Linda Rand’s next Pandemic Diaries column “Network of Hyphae,” election results are rolling in and Rand looks to nature to find corollaries amid the tumult.

 

Autumn is the time of mushrooms. It’s also an invitation to communicate with our helping spirits and ancestors through the thinning of the veil between worlds. We have a pause to examine sacred mysteries and visit the underworld. The light wanes and through this slowing of time there is an opportunity for us to examine and heal those dark places, try to reconnect where we’ve been severed, a resurrection through revelation. Like the fungal network, hidden underground, that shows their fruiting bodies as delicious golden chanterelles or poisonous amanitas, jaunty boletes or pungent shrimp russulas, we are seeing the results of spores released and these bodies will produce more spores.

His eyes pale, he drapes his coat around me as it’s begun to rain, binoculars around his neck to see birds. Flickers flash red, more at once than he’s ever seen before. Dark-eyed juncos flutter and little bushtits swarm and flash about us like a school of fish. Down the cliff, the river glows a picturesque celadon and I think of how Oscar Wilde, the quintessential aesthete (and one who enjoyed that blue-gray-green color), would approve of this view. He celebrated beauty even as he suffered unfair persecution for loving another man. I shiver, feeling a current under my skin, the danger of our legacy of oppression, the hairs on my body rising and pointing like a compass. We are never alone and ride upon a constant wave calling us to help each other, liberate each other, celebrate each other.

Presidential election results are hopeful. We walk into the forest upon shed amber big leaf maple sprinkled with green alder leaves. Cool ferns, poison oak, and it could go either way as we linger at the gates of a pioneer cemetery while we discuss whether to nap or eat when we get back. It’s easy to be depleted these days, but I feel lucky for the company and in so many other ways. We are privileged with our able bodies while so many are ill with COVID. We live in a state that makes voting easy with drop boxes for ballots, a state that believes in social distancing and remote school, even though the police system is blatantly corrupt.

 

We are never alone and ride upon a constant wave calling us to help each other, liberate each other, celebrate each other.

 

I am quietly waiting to see what will happen after voting. The early summer was an intense immersion into BLM protests, and it has been deeply moving to see a worldwide shift into a resistance against fascism and systemic racism. It’s also been grim to see how swiftly oppressive forces have tried to beat down protesters.

Over the last few months, I’ve wanted to be silent, to reattach to the earth’s axis. I understand it could be construed as dissociative to strain to hear an older rhythm than human, but it seems necessary to connect to the shifting seasons, even if they careen now and then from global warming. Like the fuzzy bee we saw drinking from the normally spring-blooming lilac, I don’t want to miss the strange gifts offering sustenance.

Invisible parts of me are fortifying in subterranean networks, to hold myself together, however things shake out. There is much work ahead with the future revealed in tiny increments, with little stability. To remain flexible rather than brittle, nimble, will help ready one to pivot towards allaying the next disaster; to be generous like the alder leaves full of nitrogen, and then appreciative like the birds and pollinators swooping in this dream-like twilight.

There have been ghosts moving into autumn, blood-rich coyote song celebrating the kill, too much wine, endings and beginnings with more endings and beginnings. Time once again to shed old skins because they do not fit, forgive and release what doesn’t work in relationships, realize the thread of happiness is always inside even when tangled with sorrow, and not dependent on permission or being understood because the truth is braided in there too. There is much invisible until it is fruiting, like so many aspects of ourselves.

Mushrooms are created from hyphae, delicate threads that amass into fungi. A network of hyphae, known as mycelium, travels infinitely throughout the soil. All that we do and think, all the waves of love and hate, all the kindness we show each other and responsibility we take for our actions and truths, these spread out through our network, they are our hyphae, threading us together. What fruit are we bringing forth?

 

Linda Rand

Linda Rand is an Art Witch and Wolf Mama living in Portland, Oregon. She has been published in Entropy, Nailed Magazine, Unchaste Anthology Volume I, as well as anthologies Places Like Home, City of Weird, and The People’s Apocalypse, with non-fiction journal excerpts in Fuck Happiness: How Women Are Ditching the Cult of Positivity and Choosing Radical Joy by Ariel Gore. Her artwork has been included in PDX Magazine and the book Oneira: I Dream the Self. Follow on Instagram: @lindapaintsandwrites

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