Time and seasons flow differently in the realm of Faerie.
You might be walking in the woods on a warm summer day, and find yourself suddenly in a clearing with autumn leaves drifting around you, or patches of snow in the blue shadows. You may find a ripe red apple, or full round rose hips, during a winter walk. This is how you know you’ve crossed their boundaries.
So it is with The Stump. Last fall, when everything around us was dying, the stump began to put forth fruit. The wood ear mushrooms on the top surface expanded their territory. The bark on the sides was gradually obscured by shelves and racks of pearly oysters. Around the base, every few days it seemed, was a new bloom of one of at least three or four other varieties of mushroom. And in the very center of The Stump’s table were the glorious pair of caramel-colored mushrooms I called Meadow and The Chief.
Yes, mushrooms do tend to come out in the fall, when the damp and rot are conducive to their growth. The strange thing was the way they lived into the winter, how even in the snow, the oysters looked as plump and luscious as ever, new shelves appearing even in dark January. It was only as February’s cold turned brutal that the oysters began to show the frost-bite along their edges, turning brown and hardening. In spring, as the crocus and windflowers began popping up into the greening lawn, the stump went quiet. The oysters, heavy with their hardening, pulled off the outer layer of bark as they began to fall away. Even in the spring rains, the wood ears stayed still and grey as lichen, and Meadow and The Chief, the first to shrivel in the early winter, went to black hard nubs.
Eventually, by late spring I helped the process, pulling away the dead and hardened pieces and tossing them in the woods, leaving The Stump naked and stark, sere and wintry, as the world around it grew to summer’s ripeness and fullness. Gill on the grass grew up around, then died back, and arms of Virginia creeper have begun to reach around the sides.
Here and there, on occasion, a group of those gray faerie mushrooms–thin discs atop impossibly thread-like stalks–would rise for a morning around the base, and dry to powder by afternoon, like manna.
The piece of bark I had set up at the base to delineate a faerie door at the beginning of this magickal cycle has begun to look the worse for wear, and I have been searching for the perfect thing to replace it. But yesterday when I looked, the door and little dooryard were covered by a suddenly-appearing crowd of the little brown mushrooms with downward-curving caps. The Faerie realm of The Stump seems to be preparing for its next season of growth. I doubt the oysters will come back, now that the outer bark is gone. One small living patch of wood ear remains on the northern side, next to the faerie door. Perhaps it will thrive again along the surfaces. I have been seeing rings of the large white horse mushrooms popping up in other people’s lawns, and am putting out my own silent welcome that some might again show up in our grassy patches. Mostly, although I know that it was perhaps a once in a lifetime experience for a singular stump, I long for some caramel-colored stalks to emerge from the center of the table. I think it was late September or early October last year when they appeared, so I will be patient, just in case they come again.
You may say there is no such thing as a Faerie realm.
You can tell me that the season of fungi is out of sync with the seasons of green things.
You may say it’s dangerous to welcome the fae ones to live in close proximity to my home.
You can tell me I’m strange or playing with fire for talking to the fae folk I meet in my dreams, for speaking their names.
What I know is that during the deadest, most anxious winter of my life, something lived and thrived in my yard, something offered me daily visions of what can grow in harsh conditions. And I will welcome whatever magick appears again as summer turns once more to fall, and we cover our faces, and the shadows spread.
Perhaps within the shadows, something hopeful, something holy, something wildly alive, will appear.
1. How life continues, even in harsh conditions.
2. Rainy summer mornings. Breathe in. Breathe out.
3. Looking forward to being in the classroom again. Tomorrow and Monday are Professional Development Days, and students come back on Tuesday. I’m not ready, but I’m ready, if you know what I mean.
4. Fungi, especially those white mushrooms popping up in faerie rings all over the place.
5. Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
May we walk in Beauty!
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” —Deuteronomy 32:2
“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.” —Thomas Merton (Oh, but I am going to try, Thomas Merton. I am going to try.)
Straighten the spine.
Scan the wide vista before you.
Feel the morning breeze
as the sun rises
over the far horizon.
Another deep breath.
Spread your wings.
“It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution.”
“What comes, will go. What is found, will be lost again.
But what you are is beyond coming and going and beyond description.
You are It.”
“Though my soul may set in darkness
it will rise in perfect light.
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
—Sarah Williams, about Galileo
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” —from The Talmud
“An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.”