Mushroom Weather

The world’s crazy. The world is always crazy; time moves faster, everything spins hard. Population is on the rise, the climate is heating, or cooling; nation’s leaders are constantly threatening diplomatic action, police action, war. Your head could explode thinking all the time about it, but the honey bees and butterflies are out. The bees are climbing all over the vibrant pink plum blossoms. The butterflies are on every other blooming plant. They dance from the weeping cherry to the flowering broccoli to the wild, erupting azaleas. The world is crazy, but the orderly cycles continue anyway. Sometimes it helps me to find those orderly cycles.

It rained steady all through last night. This morning we discovered the irrigation ditch overflowing with run-off, and the creek roaring. The ground is thoroughly soaked, but the warm weather is keeping the soil fluffed and airy. Walking across it is like walking on sponges, and occasionally your foot breaks through into a gopher’s or a mole’s tunnel. Mushrooms are everywhere—I’ve never seen so many of them. There are small yellow mushrooms that emerge like bullets and expand into pale umbrellas as they dry out. There are massive, toady mushrooms that barely break the ground but pull out to reveal a fleshy mass the size of a softball—the insides are the color of turmeric and beet. Up in the mountains we saw tall, blue-capped mushrooms with hoods the size of your fist.

The plants and the trees are all waking up from a winter that barely was.

The oaks leafed out this week—except for Josephine. She is the oldest tree in the yard, and takes her time in getting around to sprouting leaves. It seems like she waits a tiny bit longer each year, but that could be my imagination.

True Believers 

I was driving through the country the other day and passed a billboard that read:

“WAKE UP! OBAMA IS DESTROYING THE AMERICAN DREAM.”

It bothered me, not the political sentiment—everyone is entitled to an opinion—but the tactic of using the command to “wake up!” Everyone uses that expression. The right tells opponents and outliers to “wake up!” to the tyranny of the left; the left screams for conservatives to “wake up!” to the cronyism of the right; the conspiracy theorists tell everyone to “wake up!” to chemtrails, 9/11, and the long arc of secret Illuminati rule. It feels like the phrase has come to mean: “If you don’t agree with my truth, which as I see it is plainly obvious, then you are a fool.”

The truth, the truth, the truth. The truth is as objective as blue is goat. The truth is as clear as gas station coffee cut with powdered, non-dairy creamer. I have some jealousy for people who believe in the notion of truth—especially the truth when it comes to geopolitical events and religions. I guess there are some small, demonstrated beliefs I hold onto. Wet, warm weather brings mushrooms. Flowers attract bees and butterflies. Creeks and rivers swell after it rains.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.