Sunday, November 04, 2012

Thoughts from a Mushroom Walk


A few weeks back, I officiated at Sheri and Kyle's wedding in Henderson County Tennessee.  Although we all had very busy schedules, I managed to do a bit rambling.

I love living in California, but I'll admit that I found myself very nostalgic for the Eastern United States. I do miss the more dramatic seasons, autumn in particular.

Here in Northern California, we really only get rain in the winter months, so I have not seen a good summer rain in years.  I haven't walked in the warm wet woods in ages.  It's strange the things that one misses, like the quiet hush of light rain in the forest.

Heck, I've missed recognizing the spiders.  I've always relished the experience of being a stranger in a strange land, a fish out of water.  But sometimes it's nice to recognize things.  To feel cozy, and at home.

It was nice to meet up with Daddy Long Legs, creatures I've known all my life, but haven't seen in years.  (I can't tell you the scientific difference, but Eastern Daddy Long Legs have a much larger body, and aren't as freaky in their movements as the ones we have in California.) 

Being nostalgic about recognizing simple things is a strange thing to admit, particularly on a mushrooming hike.  Fungus is, by its very nature, alien and strange. 

Some offer the promise of a delicious meal.

Some are positively iconic.  The red and white mushrooms are found in so many European book illustrations and candy boxes.

The mushrooms that make the reindeer fly, and that cause hallucinations, and not a few poisonings.

I know they are dangerous, but I find them oddly comforting, at the same time. What can I say?  I'm a curious creature.

When my father was at the end of his life, he spent a lot of time asleep.  My step mother was exhausted, and my sister and I found ourselves a bit underfoot, bumping around their home in the South of France.  She and I went on many long walks, and spent a lot of time pondering the strange French mushrooms. 

Because it was hunting season, I wore a vaguely orange scarf on those woodland walks.  This may or may not have been the international color signifying Don't Shoot Me.  That winter was an odd, tense time, but those walks are a happy memory.

Sometimes there's nothing you can do to change things.  You just need to be present as events play themselves out.  Paying attention, and being patient. 

We may not always be aware of this fact, but the world can be a Very Strange Place. 

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.  While it can be comforting to see something familiar in the midst of strangeness, one still has to embrace the unknown, to venture away from what's safe.  To explore.

I suspect that Finding One's Home is a lifelong search, and the last place one is likely to find it is in the comfortable easy places.  At least, that's been the case for me.


K said...

I love this beautiful post. Thank you.

Rabid Quilter from CA said...

Lyrical post. Lovely photos!

Marcella said...

This was just so beautiful. I never thought of fall as such a lush time. As a fellow Northern Californian, I now have autumn envy.

karen said...

Mushroom walks are the best! Here on the east coast, the fairy tale mushrooms aren't red, for some reason, they're golden yellow. I remember being SO excited when I saw my first red one in Sweden. My parents were German immigrants, so I grew up on the real Grimm fairy tales, and all the illustrations had mushrooms in them. Poisonous, but so beautiful, and so much my childhood.

CinnamonOpus said...

How wonderful to be so present when you're out on a walk and noticing and appreciating so many beautiful things. It's something I try to do and fail at most times, but when I can it turns an ordinary walk in nature into something so much more special and memorable.

And now I will be looking for mushrooms on our walks, since it is something I haven't ever looked for or noticed before.

Carolina said...

Great fungus!!


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