It is through some miracle of creation that the descent into darkness in the Northern hemisphere is accompanied by some of the most spectacularly bright and brilliant displays of color anywhere on earth. In the transition from a state of maximum energy utilization and procreation of the next generation, to one of energy conserving dormancy during the dark and cold of winter, the Northern Hemisphere's tress, shrubs and grasses literally explode into a mixed palette of colors that are so intense as to boggle the mind. In Colorado specifically, while the gambrel oak, willows and other deciduous species bring reds and ochres to the show, it is the Aspens burst of flaming orange and glorious gold that steal the show.
The observation that different patches of Aspen trees within the same grove change at slightly different times was always a curiosity to me until I learned that the trees are actually grouped, they are collective organisms. With likely more than one organism per grove of Aspen. So when one of the individuals of the collective organism transitions to dormant, all the individual trees within that organism follow suit & do so at the same time, in other words, they all decide to do so together, by some sort of consensus. This phenomenon leads to a variegated carpet of hues across very large groves of Aspen simultaneously. Delighting both the visual and auditory senses, via the quaking of the leaves, with the equivalent of fireworks, at least for me. I have heard it said that the largest single organism on Earth is the Aspen organism in the area around Kebler Pass in Colorado. I hope that's true.
More recent research into the biodynamics of forestry, such as that represented in a TED Talk by Forest ecologist Suzanne Simard, have uncovered very similar communication and sharing across multiple organisms, of different species, in old growth forests. Using radioactive isotopes, researchers have been able to trace that different species of brush, grasses, lichens, mushrooms and trees share carbon across a network of interwoven biomes and roots under the forest floor. When one individual of the forest is weakened, or it position has been unfavorably impacted by moisture or nutrient accumulation in a given season, or series of seasons, other individual plants in the forest will transfer some of the carbon they generate to the weakened individual via the underground network. I believe this is astonishing news.
Living organisms setting up cooperative networks to share the life force they produce to give a hand up to weaker individuals who have been challenged by unusual energy distribution circumstances. Think about that for a moment. If you were lacking in hard evidence to back up all the shouting you hear regarding the interconnectedness of all things, that's a powerful little bit of evidence.
The same researchers have gone so far as to postulate that in addition to extra food, perhaps key information regarding survival strategies may actually be be shared between older organisms in the forestt with the young seedlings just starting out. It turns out that thee local network nodes of sharing capability also link up with each other. That's not to say a tree in Tennessee can share resources directly with a bush in Bavaria, but in connected locales, that can connect by contiguous underground networks of roots and biodynamic systems of bacteria and insects, resources can be distributed from those with the best luck and advantage this season to those who were challenged by temporary unfavorable conditions, thereby strengthening the ability of the whole to continue to sustain itself as a whole.
All of this seems to me to be a strong parallel to human social dynamics. Our inclination to help up those who have fallen. Give blood, help out at your house of worship, donate food, money, time, or your presence and attention. All of those tendencies have apparently been built into the dynamics of successful life on Earth for much longer than humans have.
It seems a strong recommendation to me for a model of relationships that should be built with your friends, family, clients, contractors, and employees. Even your competition in the right circumstances. Those that are currently strong and thriving, producing and providing additional sustenance and knowledge to the weakened among us to help them thrive and become strong also. What of the profit motive? If a geographically contiguous human community can be thought of as a joint network of individual supports, like legs on a table, holding up the tables surface which represents stability for all. Then building up all the legs of the human infrastructure as opposed to shuttling all the resources for support and sustenance to a single, or just a few legs, will make a stronger more sustainable table, profiting all. A table amore able to withstand heavier loads and unanticipated shocks to it's surface and support network.
The idea is apparently ancient. In other words, tried and true. I, for one, intend NOT to miss the lesson. Nor will I miss the opportunity to photograph its annual manifestation in the Colorado Rockies. Have a tremendous Autumn & reap what you have worked so hard to sow this past spring and summer. Never forgetting to put some by, in your personal fibre, and in your sharing network, for the inevitable period of cold and darkness just ahead.