Magic Mushrooms

Hiding under a huge fir in our front yard.
  • Since the heyday of the counterculture, “magic mushroom” has implied drug use.  This year, probably because of a very wet season, the magic in mushrooms is their size, shape, and color popping up everywhere in the most unlikely places.  There are some bigger than a softball, some brilliant yellow, some scarlet, some strangely twisted.  And almost all completely undisturbed because I, like almost everyone else, do not have the faintest idea which are safe to eat nor even if I would eat them if I did know.
  • We ignore a great deal of the biomass of the planet _ all the bacteria and of course the insects come to mind.  But fungi contribute a great deal of living matter, and almost all of it is out of sight and unknown to us until a massive underground network pops up a temporary fruit.  We hardly realize how much of the forest decay we take for granted is actually the work of the subterranean tendrils silently and efficiently decomposing cellulose and other organic materials.
  • So I am taken aback at a sudden visitor to my yard.  If I am lucky, I pause a moment to reflect on what must lie beneath my feet to be able to put forth such a structure.  If not, I am merely amazed that such a wild lifeform should show up unannounced, only to vanish totally in a day or two.
Exotic apparition by the bay in Cold Spring Harbor
  • Most of a mushroom is underground, as we once learned most of an iceberg is underwater.  Much of my unconsidered life is like that. 
  • I try to realize how complicated even my “simple” breakfast of coffee, juice, cold cereal with berries and milk must be.  Coffee from the tropics, bagged by hand, roasted, heated with electricity produced by oil or gas from deep underground wells.  Juice from apples picked, crushed, transported.  Oats grown and  harvested, ground, toasted, packaged. Berries plucked from greenhouse or field by hardly paid labor.  Milk from herds of cows.  Industries relying on other industries for metals, tools, labor.  All of it magically transported and presented to me in a vast cornucopia market, where I can purchase it with money earned decades ago.  So I can have my simple breakfast. 
  • Nature is vastly more complicated than I normally realize.  My own body is incredibly intricate _ I take it for granted.  Civilization is a web of marvels.  I am glad that even at my age I can be granted the privilege of realizing just how magical a mushroom is, and by extension how much of everything else is just as impossibly intricate and wonderful.

Samples from Caumsett on a brisk morning.

  • So much to see, so much to do, so little time _ and less energy than when I was younger.  Alas and woe.  Well, truly, when I was younger I hardly noticed the mushrooms anyway.  There seems to be a time and season for everything, even for noticing as much as possible.

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