For years I’ve been wanting to blog more frequently on mothering.com, but I couldn’t find the time. I felt like I was making excuses for myself when the truth is that I really couldn’t do it until now. The time is finally right.
It’s the same for a lot of things, mushrooms, for example. A couple of days ago I saw an unusual group of mushrooms growing on the ground outside beside a daylily; it looked to be part of a small pile of dung. Today I noticed a delicate yellow-white mushroom growing in the soil of one of the plants in the sunroom. It’s been raining more in the last three days than it has for many months and mushroom season in the southern Rocky Mountains has begun in earnest.
It’s been my goal to learn how to identify mushrooms for nearly forty years, since 1972 when I bought The Mushroom Hunter’s Field Guide, which was de rigueur for all good hippies of that era. I never successfully used the book to identify mushrooms. The photos are in black and white and I found it very confusing.
In recent times, I bought The National Audubon Society Field Guide to Mushrooms and every year I peruse the community college summer catalog with the intention of signing up for a mushroom identification class.
A couple of years ago, my friend, Michael, showed me how to make spore prints but I forgot I knew how until I saw these two new mushrooms. Yesterday morning, I got several small glasses out of the cupboard and took a stack of white paper from my office. I cut out squares from the paper that could lie on top of the glasses without drooping. Then I folded each paper in half and cut a V in the center for the stem to go through.
I carefully used a knife to cut the two newly sprouted mushrooms one at a time at their bases and then placed their stems through the V in the paper. Now they rest snugly with the base of their tops on the paper and their stems hanging down into the glass.
I wrote notes about the mushrooms, whether I found them on the ground or on a tree, whether the mushroom was found alone or in a cluster, the color and the smell of the mushrooms. This morning after I check the spore prints I will see if the gills are attached or not.
There’s more to identifying mushrooms than this, obviously, but I have a new confidence about it. I’ve looked at the field guide enough times now that it’s beginning to make sense. Somehow, all those years of being intimidated by the process have been replaced by a new confidence. Simply persevering so long begins to feel like experience and for the first time, I believe I can identify the mushrooms I found.
Life is like that. Some things just take longer than others. I bought a sink in the 80s that reminded me of a sink my grandmother had when I was a child and stored it in my garage for over 20 years before it was installed into my bathroom. I had imagined it there for years and one summer a few years ago the money and the workers came together to finally make it a reality.
It’s like that with intractable problems too, even simple things like garbage cans. For over 25 years, I had the same grungy, red, plastic open garbage can in my kitchen. I had totally lost track of it as an object because I was so accustomed to it until my 30-year-old son happened to mention that he remembered climbing in it when he was little. I suddenly realized that this was not a fixed object, but something that could be replaced, even improved upon. Now, I have a stainless steel, two-compartment, garbage can that looks nice and smells nice too. Who knew?
Things just take as long as they take and we have not failed simply because we have not acted upon an idea immediately. There is no such thing as a lost cause, unless we give up on it. I’m always inspired by advice in several of the hexagrams of the I Ching:Perseverance Furthers. Sometimes I think this phrase is all we need to know about life.
As the Dalai Lama says:
“No Matter what is going on, never give up. Develop the heart. Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart. Develop the heart. Be compassionate, not just to your friends, but to everyone. Be compassionate. Work for peace in your heart and in the world. Work for peace and I say again, never give up. No matter what is happening, no matter what is going on around you, never give up.”