A Mushroomy Day

Today was a golden day.  The spend all day outside walking about golden honey warm sort of day where everything glows.  The sit by the creek and play with leaves, make fairy homes with twigs, hickory shells, acorns and moss kind of day that comes out of the blue sky as surprising as the unexpected chirrrr of Kingfisher flying over the pond in search of fish.  The kind of day that mushrooms and the next thing you know there’s mushrooms popping out everywhere, some edible, some really pretty in an intoxicating way best left to brownies and gnomes who know best what to do with them during their festivities gathered around in rings.  Today was a day where the trees didn’t speak much nor did the wind sing, but the earth was wreathed with smiles and cushiony places to sit and share in her graces.  Today was a golden day evoking wonder and gratitude.




Fresh Rose petals minced into pancake batter, flecking and infusing the bread with red. Fresh Rose petals chopped and sprinkled over honey cakes, eat love hot from the griddle where Jasper liberally drops flakes of butter around the sizzling batter while he sings and burbles and the pancakes chatter.

Daily beginning side by side, cuddling close in the dark last night, lightening flashed through every window from all directions while fireflies talked with stars. He covered his eyes and made Ai-ai-aa-ee sounds as thunder joined with rumbling rounds and everything was electric.

We walk almost daily down and over the ruts and rocks breathing in the scent of Wild Roses all the way.  A delicate fragrance, as elegant as the white petals that curl and drop off in showery show.  A subtle note of citrus, its color the same as those orange pollen bearing anthers that powder the nose leaning into the center of the rose for a deep inhale.  A handful gathered and digested makes nostrils flare and then the whole world shifts and there’s glittering in the air.

Creamy coral mushrooms are colonizing. They have a shimmering energy where their tops touch. Snail eye stalks.  What are they passing on one to the other along curved crumbly reef ridges? Invisible bridges appear and on the flittering wings of butterflies I see the same shimmering. Glimmering on the streams around swallows. Rippling around. Carrying messages on frequencies insight. Glowing, growing, glistening, gleaning.

Rocks, for leaning against at the river’s side.   Being with water, daughters, a son filling liquid into one shoe and pouring it in the other, bringing it to his mother. Slow steady summer days, pockets full of stones. Focusing. Studying. Listening. Stone Song. Heart of stone. Cold as stone. Stone People listen to all the strife that’s rife, the wails and woes, the gloom and doom, the liturgical chants numerous and varied from mourning to morning doves coos; wouldn’t you have to be as cold as stone, as hard as rock to absorb all of it without cracking and quaking instantaneously under the enormity of it all?

Watching Snail climb toward the aqua ruffles frilling around a fallen stick. His shell is etched with patterns, the colors of who he is marked on his abode. Moving with him wherever he goes, muscles elongate and retract. He’s busy being who he is. Intent. Content. Silent.  Serene.  Still.  His shell protects his gift of Snailness, facilitates his walkabout well, keeps him on track and aligned with what he’s been assigned. He spends no time gazing at the sky, wishing he were a bird and could fly. He Is Snail. Apple is Apple and Orange is Orange. Eat Apple and compare it to Orange is to neither know nor understand what’s what, depreciating of its beingness and one’s own. When an Orange is what’s wanted, fetch one and appreciate it. When none are available, don’t eat Apple while longing for Orange. Go without instead.

Snail senses with snail senses.  Moves with his own shadow.  To walk in the shadow of another is to become smothered.  Step into the shell and emerge with eyes that tell where your shadow lies, watch while yourself dies, and rises: crawls, toddles, runs, dances, swims into your own streaming. What’s in Snail’s Dreaming?

Dreaming Mushrooms



Mushroom spores afloat, four season song

Morel, Chanterelle, Turkey Tails Boletus

Amanita Laccaria Earth Star and Fetus

Wispy whispering heard while walking, singing come along


Grow mushrooms, we love it here it’s damp and humid through the year

Grow mushrooms, learn fungal ways, deep in these woods where water plays

Grow mushrooms, trees rustle and sway, grow mushrooms great forest says

Grow mushrooms, birds trill and chwee, grow mushrooms, it’s meant to be


Yes!  What was painted eleven pregnant years ago becomes this years adventure; beginning with well, mushrooms of course, and trees::are there trees without mushrooms, mushrooms without trees?  Some grow below from out of earth, though there’s leaf beds involved, peeled bark, sawdust where woodpecker’s been busy, cardboard which is another tree sourced material; ssems like most all originate with trees . . . . we set out questing Quercus, Maple, Betula.  Maple, Sappy Betty, Heavenly Alianthus, Poplar, Hickory and Apple received us and gave us the go ahead.  We asked whether to handcut or chainsaw?  They replied, Percolate on this while venturing on::

Visiting with friends who’ve been cultivating mushrooms outdoors for nearly two decades we walked out to their setup and gave it close attention.  Shitakes on hardwood, upright, vertical, above creek on slope, summer shade.  Oysters laid on ground, resting horizontally not-such-hardwood:: Alianthus/Tree of Heaven, above creekside, understory, shade.  Learned about plugs, how they permeate through the holes drilled to fill the log within with mycelium, from which mushrooms emerge out of the log as a whole, not one polite mushroom growing out of each hole, the holes are simply conveying spore inside wood.  Would that we could plug hemlock where woodpecker’s drilled holes already, 5/16″ wide?  Well, we’re going to give that a wouldy wood would with spares.

But first to procure spawn; shitake, oyster, and resihi.  We chose Fungi Perfecti as the source to begin with, even though they’re all the way across the country.  Dreaming mushrooms will proliferate here in this happy hollow, we’ll learn how to gather spores from what grows, spread them around . . . maybe, maybe they’ll have their own dreams, do their own song and dance toward living, coexist in reciprocity, we’ll see first we’ll seed the giving trees.


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Sunny cold day for working comes:: handcut tree we thank thee. Michael and Ahmad take turns with axe, work together, first time tree cutting for both.  Our neighbour joins in with chainsaw where Hickory and Birch grow creekside between too many trees for us first timers to want to cut down solo; he knows the ways to do the work, trees drop between gaps just so, without falling on any other trees or shrubs.  Magic hands has this mountain man, shares his knowings as showings.  Cut fallen trees, limbs, any stretches with 4 -8 inches diameter, into 3-4 foot lengths, stack them Northside for a month to rest.

While waiting for spawn to arrive, do online reading on mushrooms, cultivation, drilling, plugging, get familiar with what we’ll be doing.  The day came for marking diamond patterns on logs, drilling 1 1/4″ deep, 5/16″ drill bit, whirrrrrrrrr; logs laid on sawhorses, girl’s held down the ends to keep them from galloping off and away.  Drilling’s the longest part of this work, laborious.  Plugging’s the fun part!  Hammering music, ratataptaptap, working in pairs, musical chairs around the sawhorses.  Plugged till we ran out of drilled logs, nine, and the bag of blue oysters is almost gone quite fine.


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Ahmad had a fire going where he had soy wax melted and ready . . . cheese wax and beeswax, we’ve heard, attracts bears who make tears through logs, so; the tin can and paintbrushes in hand we daubed wax over plugs, sealing out sources of contamination . . . left some unwaxed to learn the difference, mushrooms growing wild do pretty swell without waxing; have an idea to find out by trying both. Then we moved the logs over to where they’re napping creekside on some wood beams leftover from when we built the cabin; keeping them off the ground.  Now we keep them watered weekly, with hose siphoning pond, during dry weather for six months or so, when they’ll wake up from dreaming and we’ll harvest fungus; in the meantime we drink birch bark tea.  Birch wood shavings decocted by themselves are yummy, though I also brew them mixed with a bit of dandelion root, burdock root, licorice root, sassafras bark, and vanilla bean decocted; delicious warm and cold: it’s root beer without the fizz 🙂

Play Is Work

A year of learning through play.  The woods are home to a number of snares and no less than three ‘hideouts’, all built in different shapes and sharing sticks, twigs, pine needles, grasses, and logs in common.  One has a fire pit with a propped window to direct the smoke.  Another has walls and a roof of cloth.  These home building skills were put to use this summer when we built a cabin, now to be used as our schoolhouse.  Little Man drilled in no less than 250 screws and assisted with the construction every step of he way, sawing rafters, handing out screws of different lengths, and climbing the posts, beams, and rafters to sit in his favorite spot: up on the roof: while taking a break.  Much counting, adding, multiplying, and number work was applied.

A good month must have been spent frog and toad catching.  The edges of the pond and creek have been stalked and frogs of different types, as well as tadpoles, were caught and examined for days on end. Toads were found under the cardboard pathways in the garden and compared with the frogs.  Homes of rock were made for them in the garden.  It’s amazing to witness the focus and concentration that surfaces during these activities.  A box turtle was found and brought home, and watched closely for a day.  He stayed in his shell all day long.  A house was built for him in a cardboard box with grasses, rocks, and mosses.  Berries were gathered to feed him with, and the next morning shouts of surprise when the turtle was found in a corner walking about, berries eaten up.  He visited with us for a while, fully emerged and mobile for a few days before he was  returned home to the woods where he was found.

Tenderfoot and Little Man have learned how to swim in the river, the frogs and tadpoles were their teachers.  The other two splish and splash happily in the currents, learning the art of balance from the slippery rocks.  Tenderfoot spends hours in the woods, singing, dancing, and coming back with hickory nuts, grasses, and tales of spirit folk that she communes with.  Stormy has a keen eye for herbs and a great love of stories, so there have been many new tales told on wildcrafting walks.  Yarrow has become her plant ally and she can be found in the garden often, munching on basil or dill while Little Bird picks flowers for the vase.

And in between the outside activity, hatching out chicks under a mama hen, beekeeping attempts, and mushroom hunting, we’ve managed to find the time to do a few lessons in books too.  Tenderfoot and Little Man both enjoy illustrating stories, as well as form drawing, so we focused on those doing math as it comes about during the course of the day.  Tenderfoot reads with great appetite,and writes lots of notes and facts out of them in her assorted journals.  Little Man knows all his letters, and sounds out most words in books, asking what they say, even recognizing some later.  He especially enjoys writing, and is very eager, as we all are, to begin learning in the schoolhouse that he helped build 🙂

The Gift of Rain

Well it’s been raining a lot all summer and that has sent the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes into the compost heap; a bit sooner than expected.  Pulled out all the onions before they joined their friends in the compost . . . . . . .  they are now drying nicely in the shed.  Then we walked down the driveway to check the mail, and sharp little eyes spotted cinnamon chanterelles growing on the creek bank.  Whooot!  So we got the mail and made a paper bag with the junk mail to gather a few of the mushrooms in.  Walked home, left the mail there, and followed the creek into the woods to look for more, and more we found.  To our delight, we discovered that the rain has left behind a gift:  chanterelle’s that are fruiting prolifically and laccaria ochropurpurea a.k.a purple-gilled laccaria.  We all prefer the mushrooms over what went into the compost, so one door closes and the other opens, making for new morsels to taste, as the wheel turns.