On a nature walk on Saturday, we were surprised to discover spring wild flowers in full bloom tucked amongst the leaf litter on the forest floor. I don’t remember the name of these blooms, but they are often among the earliest to appear in the spring. The thing is, it’s not spring. We haven’t even reached Imbolc yet–it seems horribly risky for a delicate spring flower to appear so early.
The likelihood that it will manage to set seed before the weather turns too cold for survival seems very slim. But it blooms anyway.
A flower, presumably, doesn’t ask questions about risk and reward. It simply responds to the external events of water, sun, and temperature. It doesn’t check the calendar before the seed begins to sprout. Collectively, perhaps the seeds will have slightly different trigger points and only a few will sprout now. The rest will require more warmth longer before they come to life. And, in this way (I hope), the next generation will come from the seeds whose triggers allowed them to survive long enough to produce more seed.
If we think of these flowers as a single entity instead of individual flowers, perhaps the lesson is more applicable to us as individuals. Otherwise it may be tempting to take a lesson along the traditional lines of “only the strong survive” when the reality is that often it is not the strong that survive, it is the timely.
If we think of those early bloomers as the first attempt in the process of trial and error, perhaps the lesson is more applicable to our own lives. After all, being timely requires a lot of luck. If we sit around dormant until the exact right time, we’ve already missed it when we realize it’s come. But if we put up a few sprouts too early, we get to practice and practice some more. And when the right time comes, we’re there, ready and blooming at just the right time.
Fungi work differently. They largely reproduce via spores, which are different from seeds in that there’s no pollination. While I know very little about fungi, reportedly, at least some of them produce spores on their own time clock without regard for environmental conditions. Others require environmental factors that include nutrient levels, carbon dioxide levels, and and light levels (see microbiologybytes.com). Another study I found suggests that atmospheric moisture (which I assume is the same thing as humidity) has the greatest impact on how much fungus grows. This seems a bit like saying the ground will be wet when it rains to me–after all, do we really need a study to tell us that more humidity drives more fungal growth?
That being beside the point, the continual, misting rain for the past few weeks has created a unique kind of bloom. Although the fungi had faded a bit from their peak, there were still some really beautiful colonies. Beautiful fungi–words I never expected to write together.