One of the many things in the world that interests me is the mushroom. This is a fairly new interest, and it has developed over the last few years of walking past piles of horse poop on the farm and noticing the mushrooms growing there. First it was the colors that caught my attention. Some of them are white, some are orange, some are even brown. One day I decided to take a picture, and when I saw it larger than life on my computer, I was like, Wow! These things are pretty cool! So, I started paying more attention to them, and taking more pictures. Something magic happens when you get the camera right up close to them.
Last spring we went to Cloudland Canyon State Park up in northwest Georgia. It was fantastic as usual (our 3rd time going, and we still haven’t seen the entire thing!). I found a huge variety of mushrooms growing beside the trails as we hiked. Some of them are exotic, some are lone rangers, and some are like little villages. I was absolutely fascinated with the little tiny orange ones growing in the moss. If ever there was a natural setting for a story about some tiny creature in the forest, this was it!
I can’t help but imagine that a mushroom is like a tiny little beach umbrella, and the ants, or grasshoppers, and maybe even a roly poly or two are hanging out there, doing whatever it is that they do on an ordinary day. Perhaps they gather for lunch and shoot the shit, discussing such things as Jack, the maddening cricket that keeps everyone up at night, or Frank, who got stepped on while trying to cross the trail during the day despite being told not to. Maybe they even have community action forums, where they try to come up with ways to keep people from littering along the trails. That might explain why spiders build webs across the trails every night; they’re trying to discourage people from going any further. I’ll admit that every time I pick up a piece of trash that someone else dropped in the forest, I consider how much better it would be if people just weren’t allowed to go in there.
Mainly, I am just entranced by the tiny little microcosms that exist all around me; the life that goes through it’s cycles, oblivious to me and the rest of the crazy human drama in the world. A large part of me really appreciates the simplicity of it. It’s not a world without problems, of course; I’m not that naive. I know that I cause chaos and destruction when I run over these things with the mower, and that the affected little micro world suffers a 9/11 event and has to start over. Even a horse picking that spot to pee is probably a life-altering event for the inhabitants of that little spot. These things happen all the time, and yet, life goes on. It’s easy to be an optimist from a distance, right? Speaking of distance, do you see the grasshopper sitting on the poop in that picture with the white mushrooms?
Fungus is an interesting life form. I recently learned that the vast majority of a fungus lives underground; the mushroom part we see is just the tip of the iceberg. It plays a big role in delivering nutrients to other things in the soil. There is even a fungus that connects tree roots together in some places, and when one tree is suffering, other trees can send it what it needs through the fungus. How incredible is that?
At this point, I am merely a visual enthusiast. I haven’t tried to learn what different kinds of mushroom there are, or any of that. I’m a little bit OCD, so I know that if I learn one, then I’m going to want to learn them all, and I just can’t commit the time or the limited gray matter to that right now! I’m content to just enjoy them, and let my imagination wander around them.
I’m considering painting one of the photos. I don’t know if a massive mushroom on a 4′ canvas is something that anyone else would get excited about, but my thoughts keep returning to the idea. The grass and other greenery around the mushrooms is a big concern for me though, and the main reason that I haven’t already tried my hand at it. That stuff is critical to the picture, because it creates the contrast, but it is so tedious to paint that I cringe at the thought!
So, at this point in the blog, I’m just trying to put words in here to fill in the space beside the pictures. I didn’t intend for this to become a book; I mainly just wanted to share some of the pictures I’ve been taking! So, you can feel free to stop reading, and just look at the pictures. I promise I won’t be mad at you 😉
J. Boyd Long is an author, blogger, website developer, and the CFO of Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic. In his spare time (ha!) he likes to paint, read, canoe, and hike in the wilderness. You can subscribe to this blog in the big blue block, and future blogs will be delivered to your email. Warning: Subscribing may increase your awesomeness quotient. Please feel free to comment, and share this blog on your favorite social media page! To learn more, please visit JBoydLong.com