Michael Lowe Wright at one year old Michael lowe Wright Michael lowe Wright recently
~~~~~~~~ Let's go on a psychedelic mushroom hunt ~~~~~~~~~
Cartoon psychedelic mushrooms I'm climbing through a rusty barbwire fence. Dawn cracked a little while ago and for now the heavenly furnace is sending its rays skittering sideways across the rolling hills of dew-bejeweled grass before they disappear into the trees standing nearby. A little while ago I finished my Tampa Tribune delivery route, drove out here to this pasture, and parked the car out of sight. It's August in Tallahassee. It rained last night and each breath is like breathing water. Humidity like this takes up space in the air. It shoves everything else aside so there's less room for oxygen, something my lungs are well aware of at the moment. Cartoon psychedelic mushrooms
In no time my body and my clothes are damp with the all-pervasive moisture. Dew from the ankle-high grass soaks my lower legs and feet. Nontheless I trudge onward, scanninng the green carpet for those brown disks that spawn the objects of my desire. Soon enough, one comes into view - a lovely cowpie sporting a few little white angels perched on top. A blue tint provides positive indentification but I've done this enough times now to know them when I see them. Here they are, packaged wisdom if you know how to use their gift; packaged madness if you don't. These are young and fresh; maybe I'll have a nibble, just to enhance my day.
Sometimes the mushrooms are older, a bit dry and leathery. Not to despair, though! They work quite well in that venerable cream of mushroom soup, tuna, and rice dish. Quite well, and cooking doesn't damage the active ingredients. At certain social events such a potluck contribution is greatly appreciated.
Not all expeditions end with mushroom booty. Perhaps there has been insufficient rain. Some people say the cattle eat them. Or maybe somebody simply beats you to them. It's just another message from the mushrooms - "Be patient, little grasshopper. Each lesson will come when you are ready for it."
The heat begins to build. Soon this pasture will feel like Hell's waiting room, but I intend to be gone by then, having slipped past the attentions of any wandering bovines and their keepers snooping around in green F-150s. There are other times and other fields that await me.
Late in the day, when the afternoon tempest has washed everything clean and poured cool air over the land, I can take in enough mushrooms to fully enter that enchanted place, to let the teachers who inhabit it show me what the world around me, and I within it, really are. The sky with its thunderheads goes from a painted dome to a 3-D diorama; I see their cliff-face fronts ascending into the stratosphere, their swirling mantles of storm cloud minions. The cicada chorus becomes the sound of the Cosmic Mill grinding out reality. My boundaries fade and for a while I become a part of the Great Whole, one gear in that Mill.
And then... and then the grand finale starts up: a North Florida summer sunset. It's the chef's kiss on the day, uplifting and transcendent. There are places words cannot go, and this is one of them.
As it all fades into night, there is left behind a profound sense of peace, of having been touched by something beautiful and sacred that lives just on the other side of daily experience. Something that will forever illuminate that daily experience like sunlight through a stained glass window.
It wasn't long after this that the farmers started putting fungicide in their cattle feed. The mushrooms - and along with them the mushroom hunters - soon disappeared. Those pastures are now mostly if not all filled with houses, offices, stores... and the only mushrooms to be found are in the produce section at the nearest Publix.