The composition of the cheesemaking team I am part of has been plagued by personnel changes over the last two years. Unlike the problems caused by the current pandemic elsewhere in the world, problems here seem to be site-specific.  Last year I was part of the team for about half a year when a landslide change occurred; somehow those of us who remained were able to keep the Kaserei on its course. Returning a year later, the team has grown, but so has chaos. A new leader whose competence and integrity is now being questioned, has plunged the current team in disarray. I am not sure what my role is in this drama, the stage is set, Chaos in der Kaserei.

To recharge, I often go for a run or walk in the nearby forest, seeing green, inhaling the aromas and hearing the avian dwellers satisfies and resets the senses to equilibrium. The forest patches are a mix of tall deciduous and pine trees and walking along the pastures, giant oaks rustle in the wind. I wallow in Psithurism. I pick up some odd looking balls that remind me of truffles, but that I recognize as a type of oak gall, the product of a parasitic visitor. Over the years I have picked many of these in different places, often looking slightly or very different in shape. Over a number of centuries, up until recently, oak galls were used to make ink and many old manuscripts are written with this oak gall ink, the standard ink in Europe from about the 5th well into the 20th.

psithurism

oakgallink

To grow a nursery for their offspring the gall wasp, Bassettia pallid pierces a leaf of stem of her selected host. This part of the tree swells, forming tumor-like growths called galls, also called crypts. Within each, a wasp egg develops until it is big enough to chew through the gall wall and enter into the larger world. Unless…the crypt-keeper wasp joins the nursery. Euderus set, as this creature is called, injects her eggs into the young gall wasp. As both develop, the crypt-keeper feeds off the baby Bassettia’s body. When Bassettia starts to chew her portal to a new world, Euderus stops him or her and by feeding on its head from the inside, is able to crawl through the hole that was started by baby Bassettia. Wow, that sounds rather cruel to us. But no matter who makes it out of the gall, the abandoned nursery has served us humans for a long time, to tell amazing stories in many languages.

Is there a lesson in this for me to assist me in my role?  As the first Act of Chaos in der Kaserei begins, I hope something good comes out of it.