Many harbingers, okay, events, surround Election Day this year. First, Powerball stakes skyrocketed to more than $2 billion. I entered and lost, new to the game and wanting to trade the issues of “making ends meet” with those of a tree that would be inundated by fungi—that is, my whole karass would convert me into a human wallet.
“I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable,” my father used to say.
After Powerball, or simultaneous with it, came the last lunar eclipse until 2025. We’d see a reddish full moon gradually shadowed over. I carefully noted the time of visibility and stumbled out of bed to greet it at 5:30 am, but when I peered through the slat of my vertical blinds, I was blinded by a harsh light from the top of a neighboring building. I couldn’t make out anything else.
Step two: another bust. I staggered back to bed after glancing at my cellphone to see ifthe winning lottery ticket had been drawn. It hadn’t.
Up this morning slowly because of interrupted sleep, I next focused on this day of all days, Election Day. My polls are right on the acreage of my apartment complex. Few people vote there but enough to support its presence. I strolled over to take some pictures—having voted by mail weeks ago—expecting little “action.” I turned out to be it when I asked the front desk if I could photo the room with the machinery and was told to go ahead.
Once there, I was told harshly to stop—no photos. Go outside where there are signs. Sure, I said. No problem. I didn’t blame their coworker. Blame games are becoming more and more irrelevant to my life, though not to politics. What is campaigning but blame games even more than vital issues?
So I photoed the signage. Interesting arrangements. The ones advocating Democratic candidates, scarcer than GOP ones, greeted drivers as they pulled up to park but were to the right of the portion of the building where people were voting; GOP ones fronted that area in a neat horizontal row. Then at the parking lot exit, a vertical row of them saluted voters.
If I didn’t know the political orientations of residents nearby, I would have guessed it.
So I wended my way home along the winding path that passes the Delaware River. There an array of trees posed for pictures: a stately birch alone among other varieties, embraced by a smaller, gnarled tree about a third of its height. What did that mean?
Should I personify it?
I thought of the “woodwide web” formed by trees communicating and sustaining each other via fungal threads, a theory first offered up in the late 1990s by ecologist Suzanne Simard among others. Could I extend this to a tableau of tribute beng paid to a lofty birch by lowly ones with dark-hued bark? Racism perhaps?
I passed by a self-effacing black woman once I walked further. I wanted to tell her not to forget to vote but remained silent though I hoped she was en route to the polls and not intimidated. Racism lurks barely below the surface of this year’s election—so what else is new?
I came home to find out that someone in California won the lottery with a perfect ticket. I had purchased my ticket online and allowed for random numerical arrangements. My lucky numbers weren’t winners anyway this time. Maybe I should stick to the state lottery and settle for a jackpot of millions. Yes, I’d settle for millions. Even less, but not by too much.
Rightwing reactions to the election won’t nurture our democratic ideals. That fungal web has other agendas, more like our more traditional imagery of fungi. Many are poisonous. And so on. Some are delicious … like democracy.
A hurricane is forecast to hit Florida and then proceed northward to Georgia and produce heavy rain farther north. That’s later this week, just when all the mail-in ballots are being counted and controversy inevitable as the host of election-denying candidates contest (violently?) winners other than themselves. November, usually the tail end of the hurricane season, will be stormy at that level if not literally. Winter follows. I’m told it will be a rough one.