The Poetry of Mushrooms

I study mushrooms in a most unscientific way.  While there are more than 10,000 known species in North America, I couldn't name more than one or two of those I've unearthed.  I have read that some toadstools glow in the dark while others are infamously hallucinogenic, but I don't know why or how.  Instead, I'm captivated by the toadstool's infinitely varied beauty.  Oblivious to the sky or horizon, I walk familiar country lanes head bent to the world at my feet.  Seemingly overnight, new fungi sprout from the leaf litter like bouquets from a secret admirer.  The language of love is often spoken with flowers, but the mysterious elegant and fabled toadstool speaks louder to me.

The mushrooms I collect come mostly from my yard or neighboring woods, as much a part of my home as the possessions in my house.  The shapes and colors of toadstools remind me of my stash of inherited treasures:  faded thread from Nana's sewing basket, Great Aunt Adelaide's teapot, or my mother's linen tablecloth.  I combine these artifacts with backdrops crafted from the pages of hand-me-down books or scraps of old fabric.  The tiny vignettes portray my mushrooms in domestic scenes meant to tell stories of a real or imagined past.  Each portrait is a prayer, a spell cast in search of feelings remembered or wished for.