PLOW | Fungal friendship and the expanding causes of science

You can find my good friend Javi Roger ’23 (them/them) crouching by a log in the middle of summer and whispering to flowering slender mushrooms. They love nature on a deep spiritual level and are also brilliant environmental microbiologists. In the lab, they study how host interactions shape bacterial genomes and communities (their lab has a neat comic about their bioluminescence work). As their friend, I witness how they work hard to personally process deep environmental concepts and issues.

As the two of us wander the path, we each notice precise, seemingly random features or small woodland creatures. Years of our individual attention and refuge in nature allow us to come together and notice the connections between the local biosphere. We wonder when a tree fell, how the earthworms are doing, whether there will be too much erosion.

Javi and I connect deeply with nature because of our spiritual curiosity and also because we are queer; none of us identify with the gender binary and we don’t like to be around a lot of people. Nature offers nonjudgmental, unconditional acceptance for us. In natural spaces we reflect the experience of sociality using metaphors. We celebrate life growing, the flapping of wings, someone soaking up a tree. My wish is for everyone to have access to this joy.

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