Symbioses

This morning I was harvesting watermelons and juicing them, making a huge mess. I cut the flesh away and placed it in a blender, seeds and all. Then, after liquifying, I poured the juice through a simple strainer, to sift out the seed particulates. Then, I took these shattered seeds and tossed them into the compost.

If even one of these fragmented seeds germinates, the beginning of an evolutionary symbioses integrates the blender to the fruit. If I repeat this process enough years, enough times, with the seeds that survive blending, I will have cultivated a variety of watermelon that is inextricably linked to the technology of blending. In fact, at that time, if something changes in the future to my blender – a stronger blade, a sharper one – I could throw off the whole balance of evolutionary biology, and either create an even more blender-dependent seed, or a lesser one. I have an opportunity every season to develop and cultivate a symbiotic creature, dependent on the hand and tools of man to grow and set seed and grow again.

The closest known relatives to corn, in the teosinte family, include perennial grasses that grow in such a small area that conservationists are trying to preserve the genetic lines. Avocados and Sapote and other fruits similar to them seemed to develop to be eaten and digested by large, land-based mammals that have long gone extinct, and now people have stepped in to select genetic lines with qualities we favor. Breeding programs in the University of Arkansas have developed varieties of blackberry that are thornless, and still delicious to eat out of hand. Gene lines of species are crossing in laboratories, where new life forms are being created, developed for a series of technological techniques amenable to cultivation practices of today. If those cultivation practices change, if tastes change, if anything changes, so, too, will the crops change. We have changed, too. We entered a symbiotic relationship with cattle and sheep and goats when we developed the ability to digest lactose as adults, and continued to cultivate that symbiotic relationship.

Every time we walk on the grass, we destroy and create microscopic life forms we don’t even know exist. Every purchase we make influences global markets subtly in ways as obscure and hard to know as walking on the grass. We are creating a symbiotic future with every step. We are also being created into symbiosis. With our decisions, our failures, and the influence of the world around us, our lives are in a constant symbiosis with everything. A star sends light to us for a million years, catching this planet in orbit, and the very earth itself shifts into a dense fluctuating response to that star, and everything is connected in every possible way.

It isn’t something that really comes across in a story, but it is a part of every story that I write.

Choose your systems, choose your futures, create your ecosystem, and accept the way that everything will also reach in and choose you.

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