A little slice of life

Here is a little slice of life:

I spent the whole of this week researching and I am proud to say that it went well. My working life, as it stands at the moment at least, is dedicated to finding as much as possible about soil wilt bacteria and their interactions with plant roots. I could, and basically will, write a book about the topic.

And I have discovered, to my mild horror, that I enjoy it. I love the idea of a plant as a little chemical system, a bag of chemical cogs meshed intricately into the great machine of its environment. In this space, it must both struggle against the vagaries of the inorganic universe and contend with an array of other systems, other organisms, all in their own way trying to do the same.

Sometimes, this leads to out-and-out conflict. Great battles are fought by plants against herbivores, parasites, pathogens and the other plants around them. Sometimes, the competition is more subtle, with all sides trying to subtly influence the others in to giving them what they want. Sometimes the path to victory lies in wooing friends instead of slaying enemies. whole communities can form around the sharing of metabolic favours, using chemistry to communicate their needs to each other.

It is intricate, glorious in its complexity and subtlety. That to understand it requires endless trawling through dry, tastelessly bland articles (where every possible effort is made to avoid such fripperies as ‘engagement’, ‘interest’ and sometimes ‘readable english’) is a small price to pay.

Afterwards, I come home to a tired but loving partner and a bored but loving dog (all dogs are basically children with advanced ADD, spazzed out on drugs which make them unaccountably happy about everything anywhere ever). I spend about an hour doing something just for myself, then cook supper.

It turns out that I still love cooking, even when it becomes a chore. Then again, scientists are almost invariably good cooks (because if you can follow a protocol to do an experiment you can follow a recipe while still improvising), so it might just be me easing into the stereotype a bit.

Some nights, we even watch a movie.

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