So much rain has fallen lately that the woods are rife with mushrooms, and we aptly use that word as a verb, for moss unerupted yesterday blooms with mushrooms today. They sometimes disappear just as quickly, dissolving and eroding within a day, while others stubbornly persist, shriveling and drying over the course of weeks. I don’t know what determines or affects their different life spans, but it is curious to watch. Some are a bulbous, startlingly white mass, writhing up in a twisted emergence from the soil before straightening on thick stems; others are fawn colored and more flared, like Chinese peasant hats. Still others don’t look like conventional mushrooms at all, like the spiky white tufts that cluster in moss. My favorites are the vividly red buttons which burst through the moss, clawing through the green tendrils head first. Every walk to my cabin at this time of year reveals new arrivals, though I have to look closely for them, despite the starkness of the reds and whites, so covertly do they hide under ground growth or cower behind seedlings.
Lately, I have been seeking them out, trying to acknowledge their humble and unappreciated existence. I like that they are shy in their beauty, not as ostentatious as flowers, and that thus some of their appeal is that I have to look for them, nudge away growth, stoop to see more closely. Their transience also heightens my interest in them, knowing that I must enjoy them now: tomorrow they may be only shriveled stems, chewed caps, crushed umbrellas. Mushrooms are a lesson in immediacy, in the importance of presence.