In the days of yore, before lockdown, when we didn’t realise just how lucky we were to be able to meet up and go for a long walk, I was wandering through the woods with my cousin. Over the course of our rambles he shared snippets of his wisdom about trees and how they work together to synchronise abundant and lean years so that the squirrels leave at least some fruits to form saplings.
In fact, rather than fighting each other for light and water, trees are communal. The fine root tips of trees join together with tiny fungal filaments to form the basic links of an economic network. The trees give the fungi sugar, and the fungi give back mineral nutrients as well as carry messages and even transmit sugar from one tree to another to help them survive.
It’s a bit like city life during Corona virus lockdown. In normal times we push our way onto the tubes and buses, compete for jobs and school places without even talking to our neighbours or fellow travellers. Yet behind this independent, competitive façade there are times when we come together to help those in need; bringing food, medicine or companionship to those that are isolated and showing we’re not all ruthless, selfish loners in a Darwinian economic soup.