Being the forest and the tree

Tiny thoughts on how nature teaches us to better know ourselves

Hello, lovely subscribers, and Happy Hannukah!

I’m not technically celebrating, but my father recently learned from an at-home DNA test that he’s 3% Jewish. To connect with my lost roots, I’m dedicating these holy days to kitchen experiments centered around latkes and ruggalach. Please send me your favorite recipes!?

Speaking of roots, I can’t get enough of this New York Times article on The Social Life of Forests. It’s a captivating piece of science writing that explores concepts some might describe as hippy-dippy tree-hugger shit.

They talk about how plants communicate and share nutrients through immense mycorrhizal networks (underground fungi). I learned about this during a farming internship in Washington and still add mycorrhizal powder to seeds before planting to help them thrive in my own garden.

But this article is also about cooperation vs competition among diverse species that make up a collective unit- in this case, a forest.

Here’s a quote to get you excited:

From its skin, fur or bark right down to its genome, any multicellular creature is an amalgam of other life-forms. Wherever living things emerge, they find one another, mingle and meld.

Oh my goddess, is that beautiful or what?

It reminds me of the human body, which scientists estimate contains about 1.3 bacterial cells for every human cell. That means you can think of yourself as host to an entire ecosystem… like a forest.

When you have an imbalance in gut bacteria, you’re more likely to get sick. Similarly, clear-cut forests that get replanted without this natural balance in mind fail to thrive.

On a broader scale, this article made me think of what’s happening in our society, and on this planet as a whole.

It also reminded me of a couple of my first psychedelic plant experiences while traveling in Perú.

On one occasion, I remember lying on grass in a park when suddenly, I saw myself as nothing more than a bacterial cell in the gut of a much larger organism (Mother Earth, obvi.) I recall thinking, if I’m just a little piece of this bigger thing, the best I can do with my life is just be the healthiest, strongest, contributer and communicator I can be.

Another time, my friend Matt and I took a day trip to a sacred place, where I sat in front of a large tree, hypothesizing that psychedelic compounds are a way for plants to communicate with humans in order to save themselves. I mean, it makes sense. Think about all the hippies you know, high off their asses and tryna get you to heal the Earth.

Think about it!

Anyway, I recommend settling into a cozy chair with your beverage of choice (oat milk latte for me) and giving this article a read. If you do, let me know what you think by replying to this email.

I’ll leave you with this photo of my Christmas tree, which is currently host to more candycanes than branches.

That’s all for now.

Much love!

Lauren