mushroom whisperer

mushroom whisperer(Pinkmottle Woodwax/Hygrophorus Russula?)

As I may have also exclaimed in my last post,

Happy National Mushroom Month!

Today, I will celebrate by sharing the following tale. It is a tragedy containing a very important lesson…

She’s on her way home from running errands around Nyack when she glances to her right and sees, on her neighbor’s property, the most exquisite collection of mushrooms: tall skinny mushrooms, short fat ones, red ones, brown ones and even mushrooms that are slightly iridescent. It is like a magical city with fungi buildings, at least 30 structures in total, in at least five different varieties.

Though she has developed an inexplicable mushroom fetish, (even owns a new bible called, The Book of Fungi) and though she has never seen an outcropping quite as extensive as this, she keeps driving because she’s in a hurry. She has groceries to unpack, her workplace beckons from across the bridge, and she doesn’t have her camera with her. But she vows to herself: I shall return tomorrow in order to document this fungal miracle.

She doesn’t know exactly why this mushroom collection on the corner of her neighbor’s lawn makes her so happy but it does. She intends to blog about this magnificent city, share this wonder with the world. In fact, she believes she may have even portended it when she asked her husband to create the graphic for the home tome logo (see way above). It is as if she asked the universe for a mushroom city and the universe provided it (minus the hot pink house).

Alas, when she returns the next day, the beautiful mushroom city has been part- decimated. Trampled? Pillaged? Eaten for dinner? Some are up-ended, others are squashed. It seemed as if many of them had disappeared back into the ground as mysteriously as they appeared. How could this happen?

mushroom city decimated

She sits in the car passenger seat, speechless.

Okay, go on, her husband nudges her, after he pulls the car into their neighbor’s driveway.

But it’s ruined, she stares out the window with far more somberness than the situation calls for.

There are still a lot left, he says. It still looks cool. Ever positive, ever supportive, even if he doesn’t understand this new fixation.

She cannot speak because she is consumed by disappointment. She has only recently realized that her loftiest journalistic ambition is to document… mushrooms. And now she has missed the biggest story of the year, possibly even the century. She sits still as a statue, hand on the door handle, frozen with regret.  She should have gone back for her camera when she first saw it yesterday.

All of the above is 100 percent true, but also, she’s feeling shy about ringing the doorbell. Can I take a picture of your mushrooms? she’ll ask. She and her husband have debated this – it would be weird if you looked out your window and saw someone taking a picture of something on your property without them asking permission, wouldn’t it?

She steels herself, takes a deep breath and opens the car door. At least she made the wise last-minute decision to wear The Hat. The one she got on Cape Cod this summer and has been wearing just about every waking minute since. She can do anything in The Hat. She can approach strangers with odd requests. In fact, with each step she takes toward their front door, she begins to believe more and more that she is on a special mission, that she is… The Mushroom Whisperer.

She rings the bell. Her neighbor answers. They’ve never met before. She explains herself, stammering slightly. He  kindly consents. She thanks him and walks triumphantly over to the corner of his lawn. Then she gets to work. She will snap photos then consult The Book of Fungi at home for identification.

red mushroom(Fly Agaric/Amanita Muscaria?)

Though about half of the mushrooms are gone or ruined, there are many good ones left. Mostly, she marvels.

mushroom outcropping(Smoky Brown Funnels/Ampulloclitogcybe Avellaneoalba? Except those are only supposed to appear on the West Coast…So perhaps Scaly Webcaps/Cortinarius Pholideus?)

She imagines that through sheer will she could breathe life back into “her” mushroom city. She imagines that it can be rebuilt and that the skyline of Mushroom-topia can soar even higher in the future.

Mushrooms on neighbor's lawn(Destroying Angels/Aminita Virosas? Or False Parasols/Chlorophyllum Molybdites?)

Of course, she knows that she doesn’t have that kind of power. She simply kneels with respect and documents what she sees.

taking pictures of mushrooms 2

She is unaware that her husband is taking photos of her taking photos.

taking pictures of mushrooms

She tries not to think about how much better the photos would have been 24 hours before. She tries to not berate herself. It is said that you should stop and smell the flowers. But isn’t it equally important that you stop to photograph the mushrooms? She’ll never let this happen again. She has learned her lesson.

Satisfied that she has been the best mushroom journalist that she can be for today, she turns to leave. As she does so, she notices something pink amid the rubble:

home tome mushroom city

And the universe, with all of its mysteries, is her friend once again.

(To any real mushroom experts out there – please feel free to correct my haphazard attempts at identification!)

(We’ll be celebrating mushrooms here at the home tome for the rest of the month – stay tuned for lots of hard-hitting mushroom journalism.)

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