Each morning at dawn, and then again at dusk, I walk the trails at Chan Chich Lodge. The walks serve multiple purposes, but they also serve no particular purpose; and when I get that just right, ideas present themselves.
This tree, not a standout in any way I can see, is a marker for me now. It is on a trail where I have had some wonderful wildlife sightings, the best of which, camera-less, was with a tapir. More recently, a troupe of peccaries was snouting around the base of this tree.
And most days there are two species of primate in the vicinity, each challenging the other for territory in their own way–one with grunting howls and the other by shaking clusters of branches vigorously to appear more intimidating than their common name, spider monkey, would imply. Yesterday, a Newtonian inspiration, tailored to my own interests, came to me right here. I saw these bursts of light on the tree trunk at the same moment that I heard a plop in the leaves on the ground right in front of the tree.
Instead of an apple, and instead of my head, it was some sort of a fungus, a cluster of mushrooms by the look of it, that fell from the canopy into the ground cover. Gravity already having had its heyday of consideration, I instead turned my thoughts to the possibility of a new dimension to the Chan Chich Lodge food program.
I had never heard of mushrooms growing in the forest canopy, but why should I not expect such a thing? I know from our friend Meg, among others, that the vast majority of biodiversity in a rainforest is concentrated in the canopy. So, hmmmm. Is it an edible one?
I snapped these photographs and sent them to one of the two fellows who I always consult on these matters. Answer: too dry to make a positive id. Don’t eat. Of course I will not! But, and here’s the closest I will get to a Newtonian moment of inspiration…
If edibles can fall from the forest canopy, what if we got some people who really know what they are looking at in these forests, and who know how to distinguish between edibles and inedibles–not just fungi but all manner of foraged food items?
No genius in my picturing that scenario, but it sounds like fun. And, considering that we have in our community plenty of forest-savvy Mayans, each with elders in their extended families, I think the fun can be combined with ancient knowledge. Standing on the shoulders of giants?
Meg, please join us for this, because we will not limit ourselves to the forest floor, and its randomly dropped edibles. Our guide team just increased its skill set with the addition of Hector Salazar, who is an alumnus of the Belize School of Leadership Training, and is certified in high angle rescue; his idea of a good day off is taking his equipment in the forest and finding the tallest tree to scale and repelling from the canopy. Fun? Standing on the shoulders of giants? Let’s get up there, and let’s do this.