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Mushroom magic

No, today’s post will not be an argument in favor of legalizing magic mushrooms. Move on to the next blogger if that’s what you’re looking for.

The other day I was waiting for my daughter to get out of school. Next to her school is a playing field with a dirt track running around it, and I try to arrive a bit early so I can get a walk in before she’s out.

Recently, they put out new mulch in various garden areas around the track, and I noticed the wonderful spectacle that mulch-plus-rain often offers: a lovely crop of varied mushrooms everywhere. My family are great appreciators of mushrooms in the woods and on our table, so I was enjoying the variety and exuberant growth.

As I rounded the track, I came across something curious. In a grassy area, not a speck of mulch to be found, there was a perfect circle of mushrooms. It was an almost magical thing, to see this perfect circle sprouting from the grass.


Yes, mushroom fairy rings have a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation. But sometimes it’s just lovely to enjoy natural phenomena for the magic they bring into our lives. This fairy ring made me smile.

Just then, the bell rang and the first two kids out were boys, one of whom was carrying a long, cylindrical object. They walked up to the mushroom ring, took a second to voice a “whoa” of appreciation, and then proceeded to destroy the whole thing. The boy with the cylinder played golf, and the other boy grabbed mushroom after mushroom, ripped it from the grass, and flung it as far as he could.

Now, to be fair, as my husband pointed out to me it’s not just boys that do things like this. So I’m not going to make any gender generalizations here. But I am going to bemoan this aspect of humanity—or perhaps it’s the fault of many of the cultures humanity has created—to want to defeat the magic of nature.

So I will rewind the tape, which ends with the flinging boy hitting me in the leg with one of his particularly large victims, and rewrite this scene from the “whoas.”

“Whoa,” the boys said in unison.

They looked at each other in astonishment. How could such a weird thing have happened without any sizzle of magic or hand of a god?

One of the boys thought, I bet our science teacher would be able to explain this. But he didn’t say anything.

The other boy thought, I bet I could find out what this is on Wikipedia. But he didn’t say anything.

Instead, the boys’ eyes met, and they knew immediately the appropriate response to this situation. They dropped their backpacks outside the circle, stepped inside, and sat down back-to-back within the ring of mushrooms.

Soon other students drifted away from the school buildings, and many of them were attracted by the unusual spectacle of a circle of mushrooms embracing two of their classmates. Some of them, also, threw down their backpacks and quietly sat down within the circle. Soon the circle was full and other kids stood outside of it, watching.

Impatient parents craned their necks from the parking lot. What the heck was going on over there that was so interesting? The kids were probably just getting itchy for winter vacation. The parents looked back down at their smartphones.

The kids quietly rose from the circle, fetched their packs, and went off to find their rides.

That night, raccoons came and picked the tastiest mushrooms from the circle. Then a drenching rain melted the mushrooms back into the grass.

In the morning, kids walked over the soggy grass, rushing because they were late for school.


Posted in Culture, Parenting.

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