One of our neighbors has this SPECTACULAR patch of Coprinoid fungus. I think it’s Coprinopsis variegata, but I’m not expert enough to be certain. It’s a massive colony that is digesting a long-dead felled tree; you can see the outline of part of the stump.

And Dan Brewer’s post about magnolias and how they evolved such robust flowers to be pollinated by beetles BECAUSE BEES HADN’T EVOLVED YET, reminded me –

White-rot fungi, which is basically all of the saprophytic fungus types – some of which make weird tiny fruiting bodies that are hard to even recognize AS fruiting bodies, and create webs of filmy white stuff (mycelium) in your compost heap, or dry-rot the boards in your garage… but also comprise ALL of the stem-and-cap classic mushrooms we know – evolved after hundreds of millions of years of life had already passed. The ENTIRE REASON we have coal, oil, and gas, is that the Carboniferous period, 359.2 MYA to about 299 MYA had NO MUSHROOMS. Nothing fungal rotted those plants; they piled up where they fell. And that’s coal. I heard a scientist on NPR talking about how coal mining companies won’t let them investigate for fossils in most coal mines, because you can often see how it’s just PILED UP DEAD PLANTS with animals stuck in – and it makes it way too clear how limited and special those deposits are. When a shallow inland sea covered up an area and tons of gravity squeezed the juicy bits out of all the dead material, that’s oil. Volatile fractions separate from the squeezed hydrocarbon juices, and float to the top, and that’s natural gas. And it can NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN, because now when a tree falls, there are hundreds of kinds of airborne spores that fall on it and break it down into tiny bits of organic matter which are then taken up by insects, plants, mites, other fungi, etc. I got the deets on this from “Entangled Life” by Merlin Sheldrake.

And every time I see someone being stressed out or concerned about having “fungus in their soil” – it happens a lot on gardening forums when people are new and don’t know – it makes me so sad, and I have to tell them this kind of stuff. Because fungus makes EVERYTHING happen in the soil, and without their fungal partners, plants are crippled and can’t thrive. Plants and fungus literally hold hands on a cellular level, and in many cases they require one another to survive.

So be careful with mushrooms, yeah – don’t eat what you aren’t really sure about – but also look and realize how awesome they are. And another thing: there is not a mushroom with a poison you can be harmed by from touching the mushroom. You can pick up any mushroom, put it down, wash your hands, and you’re fine. You can actually TAKE A BITE, chew, and spit – and you won’t have any damage. You have to ingest and digest the toxins to be harmed. Many of the really dangerous ones, in the hardcore books, still have TASTING NOTES to help identify them. It’s crazy to see something with a skull and crossbones, and things like “Slightly peppery, with a fruity undertone similar to apricot.” And I learned this from Alan Rockefeller, who is a god among mushroom men, and I’ve been privileged to walk in the woods with him.

Babbling Heart

I have been working on my brain. Years of therapy, meditation, lucid dreaming, vision work; I’ve been an explorer for most of my life… but recently, I’ve taken a deep dive into a different kind of therapy that I’m going to call non-plant-based-medicine, because the organisms aren’t plants, and the folks who know, will know, and if you don’t know but you’re really curious, please talk to me privately after class. It’s an adventure in non-ordinary consciousness, and the results have been PHENOMENAL. The changes are seismic, and they have radically altered the way I’m interacting with the world. If you see me, and you think, “What got into HIM?” feel free to ask. Later on, I’ll probably be a little more frank about it, but for the moment, I’ve got to be just a bit circumspect.

This morning, I had a surprising realization. These little satoris, these moments of sudden awareness, have been rising to the surface and bursting like bubbles in fizzy water; they keep catching me by surprise, and I am living in a constant state of wonder and delight.

I have had a slight psychological stammer for the past couple of decades. It hasn’t been terribly noticeable; it shows up when I’m nervous mostly, but it’s been a constant companion. Things like strings of complicated words are difficult for me to get out, and particularly difficult to get out QUICKLY. My mouth would fight with my brain, and I would often end up either making some nonsense sound, or just shutting up. I made myself smaller, I backed away, I hushed myself. I know where it came from, and I’ve talked with my therapists about it, and I’ve worked on it… but it’s been a Thing. It has diminished my shine.

This morning, driving to work, I was singing along with Paul Simon’s “The Boy in the Bubble.” I love the rhythms, but the fast parts I’ve always just kind of skimmed over, making a tatta-ta-tatta, tapping the steering wheel along with the beat, or kind of murmured, hitting the highlights. Boy… bubb… baby… This time, I was singing, full-voice, and when I found myself rollicking right over “Think of the boy in the bubble and the baby with the babbling heart” – I realized that it was GONE. Just GONE. Totally not there. It had dissolved. My tongue and teeth spat out every single consonant, clear and crisp and clean. I literally burst out with peals of surprised laughter, and then I cried. Emotional lability has been a part of this process, and I’ll be kind of glad when it settles down JUST a little bit, but I’ll miss it, too – it’s wonderful to be so taken by surprise by joy that you well up in sudden happy tears.

I have realized, over the past month or so, that my speech patterns have shifted. More so even in the past two weeks. Friends and colleagues have remarked on it. I’ve always had a good, polished, careful speaking voice; now, it has a swiftness and a power that is very different, and I find myself having to rein it in, to watch how loudly I’m speaking, because otherwise I’m projecting to the balconies despite being in a little room. It’s a beautiful thing. My tongue has been speaking a constant river of wonderment, trying to explain the marvel of the natural world that confronts me on a moment-to-moment basis. My husband will tell you that it’s more than a little exhausting; one afternoon recently, he literally dialed my phone and put it in my hand so that I could talk to someone else, because his ears were TIRED. I’ve always been a handful; now, you’ll need to bring a basket. Bring a cart.