Monday, April 28, 2008

A Mess

Good morning to you has been a while since I wrote. My head and heart can't always decide on what is important to share here, so...let's talk about those wonderful morels a bit again, ok? OK!
I have had a cold, or hay fever or whatever- enough that allows me just enough energy to work but then rest after work, no mushroom hunting(which requires a loooonnngggg walk, hiding behind trees, etc. until I get to THE place). Uh-hummmm, sorry- had to clear my throat- so yesterday, Sunday to be exact- I still should have rested, done paper work, watched movies...but of course, I had to hunt. As I was walking to said patch, this song came into my congested, hazed head:

Where the shrooms are-
some morel waits for me
where the shrooms are, where the shrooms are
Where the shrooms are, some morel waits for me....

You know that song, if you're beyond 30- Connie Francis I think. Anyway...these are the things that float through my head sometimes. Mushroom hunting is a dreamy-like falling in love. You do stupid things, say weird stuff, change the lyrics of songs to fit your fantasy, speak in tongues kind of- to other shroom hunters. I've created a terminology of sorts, some examples I've heard over the years:

A Mess: Enough mushrooms for you and your family if you can't convince them that there is a really good movie on somewhere, or that all mushrooms are poisonous. Use it in a sentence like this: "Yep, got a mess yesterday- family is going out to a show so I'll just have 'em for supper so as not to poison the family, in case one of those mushrooms is a pecker head*(see below)."

*Pecker Head: Well, yes there's that...but! A false morel, or a mushroom that resembles, well, yes that...the children love to hunt for mushrooms if only to find one of these and say it over and over, loudly squealing with laughter and also to share it with hard hearing grandma later so they can go through the exercise all over again, even louder till grandma gets it. (And then she gives the mom, always the mom- the evil eye in allowing the children to say such things...when it has been grandpa all along who taught them such crudeness and encourages this behavior with other "curse" words as well. Such as when mom leaves the children with grandpa, thinking he'll impart the wisdom of the ages, instead he teaches "hold your tongue between your fingers and say ship.")

A Fairy Ring: A mystical circle of mushrooms...when one finds this, one stands back in reverence, calls to all the other hunters in the area- heads are bowed, and someone says, "Don't that beat all...amen."

"If that was a snake it would have bit ya.": A statement you don't ever want to hear in the woods when you're mushroom hunting with your nearly blind grandmother of 90, the shame associated with realizing your standing atop a mess and didn't see it till grandma pointed it out will haunt you for years.

Spores: Something to do with leaving the root of the mushroom where you found it and using gathering bags with holes in it so as you can spread the spores throughout the woods for more mushrooms next year.

Tourist: Bloodsuckers,biters,chiggers, ticks...Use it in a sentence like this: "Make sure you use plenty of that dope or you'll have every little tourist in the woods comin' home with ya."

Dope: A toxic spray, gel or powder that is applied all over the body and clothing to prevent ticks, chiggers a/k/a tourists- from traveling up your pant leg to suck your blood and/or give you the nastiest little itch you've ever experienced.

A Good Patch: A location that is never disclosed, and rarely shared with another unless they are blindfolded, spun around ten times till they're darn good and dizzy and sworn to secrecy by making them share an unholy secret that you will post in the morning paper should you ever find them in your good patch. Used in a sentence like this: "So you got yourself a good patch, where is it?" "In the county." "In this county?" "Maybe."

Take care.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

fourteen in all








Fourteen in all, the little mushrooms I found yesterday afternoon. I delivered eggs to a local bar after, thinking I had bragging rights on finding mushrooms. Nope. When they're that tiny people just laugh, and not even behind your your face! Well, I showed them- I went home and fried my teeny weeny mushrooms in a teeny weeny smidge of butter with a little teeny weeny bit of flour, and they were scrumptious. It was worth every bit of crawling underneath the briers and picking ticks off afterwards...I'd do it again and again. Maybe this afternoon...

Take care-

Monday, April 21, 2008

April showers bring...

Stinging Nettle- makes good tea, not good company...this is the stuff with which itch was made of...

April morning sunrise

I found mushrooms, I found mushrooms!!!!! Although unedible, gorgeous fungi.

Big ol' fungi

Forsythia-Bright as the sun

You are beautiful, yes- but not my type...

Praying Mantis egg sac- just so you know if you find them midst your twigs, keep 'em there...Great little troopers for the garden!

Snake Love- (Now I know why the snake was out so early, he was in the mood...)

No, I have not found the mushrooms yet- I vow not to blog until I have found them. Stupid mushrooms. And mushroom hunters...just like the ever loyal Cub fan, always hopeful...
Take care-

Friday, April 18, 2008

sneaky snake

Yesterday's sunshine and warmer, balmy weather had me convinced, that yes- this was the day to find the elusive mushroom. But first- I promised myself and a co-worker that I would first plant another bed of lettuce, swiss chard, peas and carrots. I did. By 5:00 I had those chores done, ran into the house and picked up not one, but two mesh bags for hunting- I was realllly optimistic. Walked to the woods, Gideon and Gracie leading the way- Black Dog not too far behind, entering from the West side. (As the wind was blowing towards us, I always try to enter against the wind so the deer won't catch my scent before I catch a sight of them...)Into the brambles and over the rotting logs, around the pond- right to where I just knew the mushrooms would be waiting for me. Nope. Just the guy up above, he startled me a little- the garter snake. He thought he was hidden quite well, never moving- and I thought he was just a little too close for comfort, but- his appearance means mushrooms and soon. Snakes have their job to do, I don't like them though- they scare the hell out of me. But yesterday, I didn't fear him like I usually do, snakes have an irrational effect on me- I've been in the woods all my life, ran across many of them and have never been bitten. My Dad is more of a woodsmen than I, he even looks like a tree, sort of. He's never been bitten either. I don't even know of anyone personally who has been bitten- except one goofy guy who I barely knew, who stated and showed me his Rattle Snake bite. Maybe snakes only bite goofy people, the kind who would be proud to lift a pant leg in a busy office and say, "Looky there..." and show you a really hairy, scarier-than-a-snake limb. Anyway, where was I going with that?! Oh yes, snakes- they show up anonymously, invisibly just about anywhere and can scare you, wreak havoc...but usually they are as frightened as the rest of us and just slither away. I don't like to encounter snakes anywhere, but I suppose if all the world were flowers- we'd never know just how beautiful the garden of life truly is if we didn't have some reptiles lying in wait to show us the ugliness there too, making the flowers, like friendship- even more beautiful. Thanks. Take care-

Thursday, April 17, 2008

respite in the wood

It is an earlier morning for me, woke up around 4:30 instead of my usual 5ish time- coffee in hand, tea brewing. I think too much these days of all I have to do, and yet when I get off work- I find myself compelled to walk to the woods. Spring is happening everywhere, but especially in the woods- it is erupting daily with good news. Stinging nettle is about six inches high now, the brambles of blackberries reaching two feet and ferns are beginning their slow roll to bushiness. I've looked and looked for the little greys, the mushrooms- haven't found a single one yet, but the night temperature hovered around 49 degrees last night, so this might be the day. That will be my excuse for this afternoon's adventure- high of 73, a warmer night, lots of sunshine, plenty of moisture- I wouldn't want to miss the morel's mysterious pop ups any time now. As I sat on a log yesterday, ever so still- still enough to allow the Spring Peepers to cautiously once again begin their love songs to one another, their chorus filling the air- I thought of words I might convey to express my love affair with the woods. I'm not a good enough writer- can't express well enough what a little bit of woods can do for my wondering soul. The green there, this time of year- is of the brightest quality, it's the kind of green that has a fragrance that mixes well with the rot of old logs- a musk and a freshness intertwined. The trees all around- cottonwoods, river birch, ashes, the three sisters (my favorite respite in the wood)- are bulging with buds that are brimming with the fuzz of life, and soon- the leaves will erupt and make their music with the wind. Then my little bit of woods will become a vibrant symphony, an amphitheatre of noise that plays a newer song- every day.

I placed my hand on the earth several times yesterday, checking her temperature- cold and damp, though feverish in the sunny spots. I looked all around and under every brier bush for the yellow painted turtle that I have met in the past every year at this time. His absence should tell me quick enough that he is still slumbering, not out looking for mushrooms yet, he is wiser than me. But I am hopeful, rushing the time the space and the place where I will likely find the mushrooms, the turtle and I are often at odds over who will get the first one. So, in a nutshell- my excuse for not getting done in the fields what should be done, although I have exerted much energy on the less windy, warmer days in planting- I don't want to miss a thing, a growth, a sound. (And mostly, a mushroom.)

Take care and enjoy the day...

Monday, April 14, 2008

on the farm time

Begin again. And again. And again...that's been my experience, to start and stop many times over. The cold winter weekend, for it does feel like winter back stepped a bit and shoved Spring aside for a few days- visited my farm, my lettuces and sun thirsty beets- laying a bit of a frost blanket atop their new green tops. I haven't been out to see the damage if any, of course I hope that it wasn't permanent, that the new seedlings might shake it off, and begin again- to grow. We farmers are a stubborn bunch. We like to get ahead of the weather, the rain and snow- and put our little patch of earth into early production. And then there is April, a month that takes it's sweet time to warm up to it's place on the calendar. In my memory, though- it has proven to be always the month that first surprises us with the greens, the new bright greens, and also the snows. The big snows, and the freezes- like last year's fruit robbing ice storm, just about this time. And still, hopeful romantic farmer that I am, I still planted the seeds at a time that might place their growth in jeopardy. Perhaps the freezes, the frosts, the rains- will make my little plants stronger in their weakest parts. Perhaps if only sun would shine, and just the right amount of rain would fall- that kind of neutral balance would create boring produce- to nice, to bland, to non descriptive. "Here's some nice carrots- their orange and sweet, and the story behind them is a real yawner. I planted them and they grew. Period." Oh no, give me something to talk about, to show- to tell their story. "These carrots took three plantings before I could get a know the weather has been unrelenting." And then the real stories begin. Now my customer can relate, telling of their own trials with the weather. And now the carrot becomes a treasure, a trophy of sorts- that speaks of the beginnings, again, and again...Good day to you, I am off the clock and on the farm time. Beautiful busy day ahead. Good talking with you, take care-

Monday, April 7, 2008

between the joy

""Sorrowful joy" sums up my feelings after last night. There is so much joy in celebrating and honoring our sons in what ever way we can. The joy of watching shells burst to their favorite music is, to me, awe inspiring. So much joy, so much beauty. It is, unfortunately, joy born of great sorrow. You are so right when you say love never dies but goes on forever. It is just so tough that there is so tight a connection between the joy and sorrow.

We have met so many wonderful people that we would not have "IF" things were the "old normal" and John and Beau were just a phone call away. But (yes, there is that cursed "but") we know that is not possible. All we "members of the club" can do is help each other in what ever way possible. Be it fireworks, beautiful prose, a supportive look, a hug or all of the above, it is what we must do so we are able to continue our lifelong journey of surviving and moving on."
L. and V.

I think that we are born to bear both joy and sorrow, to recognize that each is on a level plane-that there is a balance there, a tight rope walk.
When one rises higher or lower- I misstep and fall. Beneath me is a net, held together by the strings of friendship- threads woven together by family, friends, kind strangers, strong words, kind gestures, hope, hugs and kisses and embraces- a tapestry that never frays, it's strength capable of catching me in my many tumbles, so resilient and strong, though ever expanding and flexible- it bounces me back up there, on that tight rope walk.

My joy and sorrow last week was like a lost sock in the washer, caught up in many blankets in the spin cycle, agitated, stretched, lost in the load. I was so weepy yet so thankful that once again my son's name would be on many tongues, his memory alive once again for many, not just me...I miss him. I miss hearing his name. I miss seeing the reactions of the faces when they recall the stories of Beau. I miss the laughter connected with those stories. I yearn for him, his story, his connection here...every moment of every day.

I stood below a thundering display Saturday night. I held my hands to my face- an act of awe and vulnerability that I tried to contain. I do not let others down easily, I do not like to affect anyone negatively- there is enough of that in this world. But I realized, as of a weepy Saturday morning...that I am not a pillar of strength, I am a mom, a human person with a great spirit that mostly soars. I am a person who often is humbled harder down, because I am (reluctantly) aware of the lowest of lows and so my highs are equal in their heights- it's hard to see the ground.

My friends, you have humbled me- gently, soothingly, lovingly- like a cannon ball, you came through the wall that sorrow has built and love secures with the mortar of memories...the one I could not climb, or go under or must go through. Oh the wideness of the gap now...thank you, thank you. If you know not what you do...if all you do is out of that great love for John, it is more than enough sweet parents- that resilent ever increasing, never dying love. Scoop by scoop, we will move our mountains...

Take care-

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

exploding love

Has anyone ever done something for you, out of the blue- that is beyond kind and wondrous? I have had this experience, many times...often, I forget soon enough to say thank you. My post today will speak of a kindness born out of tragedy, out of despair- yet even though these people who are going out of their way for me and mine have been through the fire of the loss of a child- they reach out to me, for me- in joy. On Saturday, April 5th, at dusk, Petersburg fairgrounds- there will be a fireworks show in honor of my late son, Beau.

(Brief: Shattered lives, helpless hearts- when the shock wears off, the journey's just begun.)

For Them
Seldom read the paper
so why did I today-
pick a piece of torment
on the obituary page

Another senseless tragedy-
twenty two and full of life
a local boy not quite a man,
he'll never take a wife

Oh his parents, numb struck parents
for them it's just begun
their questions in the multitudes
and answers they'll find- none.

I pray that those who reach to them
think of what they'll say
and only heal in time of need-
not hurt them more today

Small town folk will bustle
to the resting place
and offer tears and "I'll be here-"
and then just walk away-

They think they really mean it,
when offering everything
but they have reason to go on-
they just can't know the sting...

Oh the parents, poor sweet parents
it only has begun-
The road of grief, a million miles
they'll crawl through every one.

Them are the people who are holding the fireworks show, they lost their son tragically, too soon and I had just happened to be reading the paper, when I learned of their sorrow. I do not like to attend funerals (who does?!), but especially now- it is a difficult endeavor for me. John's wake was the first I had attended since my son's funeral- I did not want to go, knew I'd fall apart, but for them- I had to go. John and Beau attended school together, grew up together- different in personality and musical tastes, but good, uncommon unique individuals- I think they respected each other for those differences. After L. and V. lost John, I made sure they saw me, hoping they might come to realize this is what survivors look like, I was "a member of the club" a year longer than they. I needed to be there for them, had to see them through in any way I could, I knew the road they would have to travel. After reading the obituary, I wrote the above poem- I never shared it, I didn't think at the time that it would serve any purpose, didn't want them to know of the days to come...only hoped and prayed for them an awareness of taking each day, and only that day- as it came.

I saw them last year at my farmer's market- we hugged. They had told me of their lives intwinement with organ donation- how strongly they felt that something good should and could come from something so very tragic. They filled me in on their ever growing business in firework shows, how this too seemed to serve the purpose of a higher love, connection and joy given to countless others. I was offered a sincere loving gift- pick a few songs, Beau would be remembered in this year's vendor extravaganza- a major fireworks display in April. Six weeks ago, I received a letter telling me, showing me- that now the whole show would be dedicated in honor of my son. Many of his favorite songs and some USMC fight songs would be choreographed with the booming artillery. To say that I was touched does not scratch the surface of my feelings for this extreme, kind gesture. Turns out both John and Beau loved fireworks. Every year on my son's birthday, we celebrate-with fireworks. And now this ultimate gesture of honor, remembrance. It will be both a difficult display to watch and at the same time- a beautiful experience. In the dark, out of the dark- light and sparks and brightness- exploding love. Thank you friends, you know not what you do. Here I smile...