Next weekend the Puget Sound Mycological Society is holding its annual Wild Mushroom Show, one of the largest, most complete exhibitions of mushrooms in the United States. The young fellow who fixed the gas leak last night was coming around the back when he beckoned me with childlike glee, pointing out the colony of fruiting Psilocybe cyanescens in the rust garden which had blended with unkempt surroundings underneath the old folding bicycle.
He possessed such a remarkable scholarly grounding of mycology, expounding with awe upon the wonders of the natural world at length that even this morning do I remain thunderstruck at his uncommon spirit. This kid even had an old world name, he was something special. What a disappointment when a gas leak was reported someplace else in town, just when he was getting down to some really interesting insights. But so it goes for our everyday heroes. This morning I wanted to capture a vantage of that magic colony for you to go with these thoughts but it’s raining quite heavily here in Puget Sound so never mind that.
postscript: During a lull in the raindrops I managed a few exposures. My favorite is looking through the spokes of a junky bike tire, I’ll share that one later!
Yesterday on the way down into the valley for piano before he commenced refinement of that inscrutable classic On Top of Spaghetti Oliver Fern and I made the recovery of one, lost red purse in the middle of the street which fortunately had not been turned into mush by motorists braking for dear life down the Himalayasque hills of our neighborhood. The handbag was weirdly emptyish, smelled a tad gamey so that momentarily I considered that one of the mentally ill persons residing quite difficultly outdoors in the greenspaces which fringe the arboretum, who carry on most tragically, immorally invisible to most anyone, may have dropped it but utilizing our best forensic skills we ascertained it had fallen, bounced as it were from the panniers of someone’s bicycle as they concentrated for the steep descent of the grade and personal photo identification inside (did I not say, our best forensic skills?) confirmed it belonged to a resident whose domicile was located just blocks away. She wasn’t home, we placed a telephone call to her utilizing the contact number from a clutch of business cards contained inside of the handbag (you should have business cards, Papa! Oliver gleefully announced) the numerosity of which seemed to indicate a rather strong demand in the Puget Sound region for those contracting as health and wellness coaches (which sounds suspiciously like shit white people get paid for) so as you can imagine I was filled with a degree of trepidation that in my person she’d see through to any deficiencies in character or nutrition (as there are plenty, I’m afraid) needing to be buffed.
Some time later back at the house a polite and pleasing cadence of knocks at the front door revealed a distinguished, matronly individual with twenty one speed bicycle and brandishing a small, traditional shepherd’s pie as an apparently commensurate purse-finding reward. She had ridden her bike down to the Arboretum and somehow the purse had gone a-flying. As it was pizza night and the shepherd’s pie contained lamb, the boys demurred but I will attest it was quite good.
This outdoor appliance was bequeathed to me several years ago as yet another entirely unnecessary show of appreciation (because after all we just do what we do) this particular occasion by that onetime neighbor across the street, a somewhat irascible fellow by way of New York City whom I came to adore for obstinacy of spirit and occasionally disagreeable but elegantly, steadfastly supported notions of how everything should simply be, so that I was disappointed when he and his better half saw fit to move further atop the hill closer to bustling urbanity because to put a fine point on it they were battling that culture shock of cool Seattle niceness. Once or twice a year we exchange correspondences about getting together for coffee but it just never happens so you could say he has become a truer Seattleite than even he imagines.
At any rate, they moved into a small condominium apartment sans small balcony or patio, as such they had no use of a charcoal grill and really neither did I but this idea had always occurred to me and the beginning of last summer finally saw it into fruition. The hens and chickens might have gotten scorched in their southern exposure come August (not to mention it gets hella hot under that black dome) except we had a relatively mild summer whew! so I think they may be better off in the rust garden out back.
This is Sunday morning above town featuring a southerly exposure of a river valley where I spent years shutterbugging when the forest was accessible only if you were willing to brave a terribly potholed, dirt road along which creepy ne’er-do-wells dumped mattresses and old cars, tiki torched’em while getting high but now there’s a smooth ribbon of blacktop engineered for Instagrammers and other influencers. When was better you ask? We sat here admiring the view, Oliver Fern correctly identified this common shrub, that tickled the heck out of me. Don’t you love the Latin name for this one? I do. There’s an ocean-spray in our backyard, found it abandoned off East Aloha several years ago, my garden is populated with strays being that Seattle’s a gardening paradise where every autumn, industrious neighbors move the furniture around as it were, plenty of cast-offs to the curb are to be had by the more opportunistic and shameless among us. The little Charlie Brown ocean-spray I brought home got plopped in a high traffic area where the boys constantly bash it with baseballs, bikes and wooden swords. You could say it’s well-loved.
But really then I made the mistake of clueing them in that virtually all the coastal native groups hardened the wood from ocean-spray (also ironwood) in fire for making spears, harpoon shafts, bows and arrows. For Goodness sake, was it really necessary to mention harpoon shafts? At any rate, Sunday morning I experimented with some of the outstanding film simulations built into my Fuji, it seemed like it could turn into a real thing but then I got home and the raw converter in Lightroom stripped those tries down to the ironwood. So ditch the nostalgia and algorithms, I guess. Should’ve used both sides of my brain. This is just my humble take on a scraggly Holodiscus discolor which established a foothold in a lofty place. Had to chuckle when I noticed spider webs all over my exposures, including one straight down the middle of this frame (what a dragline!) but that’s Mother Nature for you….
Notwithstanding rather inauspicious beginnings there are two pumpkins growing in the backyard thanks to Oliver Fern who transported his delicately-sprouted, first grade seedlings home last springtime, in a mangled waxed paper cup. After surviving that journey, the little sprouts thrice fell off the dining room window sill, requiring miracle surgery to ensure the continuation of photosynthesis before eventual transplantation to the dirt patch in front of the rust garden, our fingers crossed as the neighborhood has experienced a prodigious bunny boom and the heartbreakingly mangy pet store cast-offs favor our side path which leads to an alley overgrown with tall, luxuriously fountaining Philadelphius at the edge of a sheltered hollow just right for cute and not-so-cute rodents on the lam from rainy days or owls (also, Oliver Fern likes to hide out in there afterschool and play spaceship). That pumpkin vine(s) would explode like morning glory and one little bugger escaped our attention, a midsummer late bloomer which had stolen seven feet high into the Forsythia. We pruned the vine back to earth and behold, it’s the biggie! Fungus has been a stubborn, recurring problem for patches around the neighborhood, this year. We’ll take that over stifling heat waves and two months of wildfires in the Cascades.
Dunno if you’ve been reading any good books, I’ve been trading Washington Irving short stories back and forth with Adam from that dogeared paperback which was found on the upstairs bookcase in a stack featuring titles including but not limited to The Catcher in the Rye, The Red Badge of Courage, Ethan Frome, a bunch of shorter Ivan Doig (one of my all-time favorite authors), Sense and Sensibility, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Animal Farm, Michigan’s Lumbertowns: Lumbermen and Laborers in Saginaw, Bay City, and Muskegon, 1870-1905 and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. This morning, Adam and I were discussing whether or not he really ought to be taking a flyer on any Stephen King even supposing I read my share back in the day but I don’t particularly care for the horror genre and explained best I could he’s likely to stumble across some fairly foul language (not to mention lurking misogyny) and wouldn’t it be nice if he just stuck to some R.L. Stine for the time being? Well that’s been pretty played out for quite awhile so I promised him I’ll be on the lookout for other stuff though far be it from me to roadblock him on anything he wants to read, the boy knows how to use the catalog online (he taught me how to place holds, as a matter of fact) and there’s a branch of the Center of the Universe just down the hill.
postscript: Wrote this on the first day of October it seeming to me the report on that state of Oliver’s pumpkins (along with this image) was a delightful way to ring in autumn and I hope soon to feature his patch in a photographic exposition which may also include the beloved rust garden (of course that will depend whether I stop up or down so you may have to use your imagination for the blurry parts).