portrait of The Imaginative Rabbit

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

thoughts from The Imaginative Rabbit

Every year, I must get my Chef’s License renewed. And I dread the process every time: the long line for the renewal application, the paperwork, the inspection of my kitchen, the worry that I might have to take the remedial “Cooking for Others: Cleanliness and Safety” course if I don’t pass the inspection. Nevertheless, today is the day.

I brought a snack and now stand in line at the regional Culinary Licensure Office. The line goes around a bush and over a dead log. I knew I should have come earlier in the day! Ugh, the reminder that I should have planned better frustrates me! When I get exasperated, I like to pace. But if I do, I will lose my spot in line. Plus the red squirrel behind me in line looks quite eager to take over my spot. So I’m stuck here looking around for entertainment to occupy my anxious mind. What details can I make out around me as I wait in my currently assigned location?

There appears to be a lovely burrow entrance to the north. It looks cozy, warm, and welcoming. I wonder if anyone I know lives there. I have met a fellow Chef from this neighborhood but can’t recall their exact burrow location. Maybe I could sniff it out around dinner time! They were a magician with the classic dandelion leaf dishes we’ve always eaten. As a youngster, I would agonize over the monotony of eating those leaves meal after meal. Culinary exploration really shifted my perspective and inspired me to love those classic greens again. Maybe I can incorporate some of that creativity into my next Cooking Class offering.

The line moves forward. But only slightly. As with my culinary profession, monotony calls for taking on new perspectives and getting creative. The line has moved enough so that I can now see the other side of the dead log. And what a welcome surprise awaits me! A young family of mushroom have gathered on the rotting trunk. Are they gathered for a family portrait? Or a long-awaited group hug at a reunion of friends? How wonderful to see many different ages all included in this togetherness. These mushrooms are so special in the bond they share with each other and other plants in our forest. I admire those connections.

Many days, I wish I could throw down roots: to reach my furry toes into the cool damp soil; to wiggle my fast feet deep into the earth and soak up nutrients with my calloused pads. As the mushroom family and the trees do, I long to send news of my culinary success to friends family through mycelium in the soil. Instead, I’m so limited. I must journey through the forest corridors to share my news face-to-face or offer my talents to a traveling neighbor who, in exchange, will likely distort my news as they pass it from one eager ear to the next.

Goodness, what remarkable progress the mycelium network could provide for my budding business! I could advertise to local neighbors with incredible efficiency. I could warn my neighbors of a new noxious weed to avoid in their diet. And I could collaborate with fellow Chefs from the comfort of my own kitchen. The potential fills me with excitement!

There’s impatient shuffling and a "click click" from the red squirrel behind me in line. Apparently, I’ve neglected to move forward in a timely manner to keep up with the progress of the line. Sorry, neighbor. As I take a step forward, I now realize I’ve dug myself knee-deep into the soft soil in an attempt to access the coveted communication network below. See you later, mushroom neighbors!

Bayer, Eben. “The Mycelium Revolution Is upon Us - Scientific American Blog Network.” Scientific American, July 1, 2019. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-mycelium-revolution-is-upon-us/.

Fleming, Nic. “Plants Talk to Each Other Using an Internet of Fungus.” BBC - Earth, November 11, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20141111-plants-have-a-hidden-internet.