The Ugliest Mushroom

I’m back in the woods for the first time all summer. 

As the sun sets, the children gather burrs to make the roof of a fairy house, and my neighbor and I discuss the invention of Velcro arising out of viewing these burrs under magnification.

The burrs hook and cling to anything near them.  Relentless, intense, and desperate.  I love the shameless audacity of a burr.  I need you!  I won’t let you go! 

“They’re just awful,” my friend reminds me“Just wait till the fall when you can’t get them out of your hair.” 

Meanwhile, mushrooms decorate the forest.  I remember believing that little gnomes lived within them.

My daughter finds this red one that seemed to appear overnight.  We take pictures as evidence.

Red Mushroom.  Home for a Gnome? 

My friend points out the ugliest mushroom we’ve ever seen.  It’s probably poisonous.

The Ugliest Mushroom

I kinda like this mushroom.  Awful burrs and ugly mushrooms.  Ugly:  repulsive and unpleasant.  That’s only one way to see them.  Even the ugly has something to give if you examine it the right way.  Burrs give us Velcro and this ugly mushroom catches the setting sun. 

It’s beautiful out here in the woods. 

Journal:  Yes, nature has some ugliness to it.  What’s an ugly natural thing?


Swimming Beneath the Geese

I’m swimming in a lake with my daughters, and another family nearby starts feeding the geese.  Within seconds, a gaggle surrounds us.  They come from every direction, leaving the shore and their organized formations across the lake.  Our heads bob along in the water right against their soft, wild feathers.  I’m so close that I can look into those deep black eyes and touch the fuzzy heads of the goslings.

It doesn’t seem right how close we are. It seems other-worldly. We aren’t separate from the wild; we’re swimming along with it. 

The family with the goose food offers me a handful.  If I’m still enough, someone tells me, the geese will eat from my hand.

And so I am.  And so they do.

I’m told we can swim under the geese and even touch their webbed feet.  Because the geese are used to floating logs and debris, they don’t mind when you hold their feet.  My daughter tightens her goggles and dives under the surface to swim beneath the geese.

My five year old has pink goggles that sit on the pier.  My husband tosses them out to me, and I dive deep under the gaggle, turn myself over, and look up towards the heavens.  It’s all feathers, little webbed feet, and the jeweled water swirling above my head as the sun shines down.

I stored that experience away, like I hope my daughters did, in that place in my imagination reserved for the magical, the heavenly, and the purely happy.  Maybe one day, when life bears down on my children with that weight of sadness that comes to us all eventually, in its own way, they would recall this morning swim beneath the geese.  They could live again in that moment when something rare and beautiful happened.  And they’d catch it–all feathered, webbed, and jeweled–in their hands.

It could be their flair for that day.