There has been a lot of rain this year, and that, combined with darkness in the forest, makes for a lot of mushrooms. Some years are mushroomier than others, and this is definitely a mushroomy kind of year. Everywhere I turn, I see them. They are not plants and they are not animals, although they have more in common with animals than they do with plants. They have their own “kingdom” in biology, and the study of them is called mycology.
|A secret denizen of the forest.|
Perhaps the mycologists should do some reading of the old faerie tales, for they abound with stories of mushrooms. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a tale of a faerie that didn’t include a mushroom somewhere. The opening scene in Disney’s “Snow White” movie shows red Amanitas, a mushroom known for its psychoactive properties in a compound called “muscimol.” But anyone watching the “Snow White” movie could have told you that. As soon as you see the bright red mushrooms speckled with white, you know you are dealing with something out of the ordinary waking world. And so Snow White runs to escape the huntsman and falls . . . and falls . . . and falls . . . downward into the Underworld, where she meets seven dwarves (or faeries), and many magical things happen to her.
And do you know the Russian faerie tale of Sivka-Burka and Ivan the Fool? Ivan is not nearly as fine as his two elder brothers, and he is always collecting mushrooms in the forest. His brothers mock him for it, but he has a magic horse, Sivka-Burka, given to him by his dead father because he was the only one who obeyed his father’s wishes upon the old man’s death. The magic horse can transform Ivan into a handsome young man when Ivan crawls into its right ear and out of its left, which sounds like a psychedelic experience to me. Throughout his adventures, Ivan keeps collecting his mushrooms, and eventually he wins the Tzar’s daughter.
They’re strange things, mushrooms are. The mycologists have no idea what they’re dealing with in mushrooms. Anyone who has read my blog at all knows how fascinated I am with these creatures of the woods. They seem to bring out the faerie in me.
Dark woods, quiet woods, spooky woods I see,
Mushrooms, mushrooms, peering out at me.
Tall faeries, short faeries, green faeries three,
Mushrooms, mushrooms, dance around me.