It was a memorable moment when I heard a room full of 4th graders giggle as they listened to Prospero from Shakespeare’s The Tempest address the elves that make “midnight mushrumps.” It does sound funny, mushrumps, or mushrooms to the uninitiated. In spite of the sound they are certainly one of those growths that are unusual and mystical to me. They conjure fairies, gnomes and sprites as well as pipe-smoking caterpillars.
Today I saw more mushrumps growing in the wild than I have in my entire life. I took a walk around Benedict Pond, my old friend that has inspired many of my blogs (On Benedict Pond). I don’t usually get to trip around the pond in summertime when I am at my busiest acting and teaching, so I have missed the mushroom extravaganza until now.
Growing all along the path around the lake were variegated mushrooms. It was as though Hansel and Gretel had dropped them, instead of bread crumbs, all along the lake in order to find their way home. I made up a song as I bounced along based on a children’s tune my girls used to love by Raffi, “There were fat ones, skinny ones, fair ones too.” Adding my own lyrics, “Tiny ones, BIG ones, and long-necked tricks. Red ones, orange ones and mis-shapen dicks,” (a nod to Mr. Shakespeare where young Prince Edward in Henry VI Part 3 yells at his uncle, Richard…“And thou mis-shapen Dick, I tell ye all I am your better”). But I digress…
Nature never ceases to amaze me and the caps popping out of the leaf decaying soil played a magical game of hide and seek. I really don’t know anything about mushrooms other than you never eat them unless you know what you are hunting. Besides they are too beautiful and quirky to disturb. Like a floppy mole hiding in your armpit.
Enjoy this series of mushrooms all on one path, in one hour, on one day, by one lake. How one-of-a-kind lucky am I?