I want to talk about fungi. I know, I know. “But, Caitlin, what could possibly be interesting about fungi?” The better question is what ISN’T interesting about fungi? I have decided to share a couple hundred words on fungi with you all because I was numbing my mind on Pinterest the other night and went down a rabbit hole of pictures of beautiful fungi and fungi have henceforth been on my mind. As the Internet is a magical place that knows all, I continue to see pictures of fungi everywhere. I started thinking, is fungi the fabric that weaves my life together? OUR lives together? My third grade science teacher would probably say “yes”.
When I was a child, I have fond memories of visiting my Grandparents’ cabin up in Phillips, Wisconsin and spending afternoons walking in the woods. If you were lucky, you would come across an off-white orb rising up from the forest floor. We called them puff balls and they were asking for it. We would stomp the bejesus out of the them expelling spores into the air shouting with glee. That, my friends, is what you call symbiosis. Today I learned the sciency name for these ‘shrooms is calvatia gigantica. You’re welcome.
Fast forward a decade or two and I was in training for my yoga teaching certification. I have a memory of my instructor emphatically telling us we are what we eat and if we eat mushrooms, we will, essentially, be dead inside. At the time, I avoided mushrooms for a few years out of shame and for fear of not fitting in, but I always took issue with somebody telling me I shouldn’t eat Nature’s Little Digesters®. I am happy to report I eat mushrooms now because they have a delightful meaty texture and provide our bodies with the essential nutrient: selenium!
Unless you stick your head in the sand when it comes to health foods, mushrooms are having a moment. Specifically Lion’s Mane and Reishi mushroom are being touted as super mega ahhhmazing things to put in your body and maybe cure cancer. Basically anything gives you cancer these days and the health food industry is here to tell you what will cure it. Goji berries! Green tea! Everybody’s favorite: kale! I’m not going to lie, I totally buy chocolate laden beverages from the coop that contain reishi mushroom because Examine.com tells me it’s relatively safe for consumption and it tastes deliciously earthy. But, mushrooms are not just for oral consumption.
My photography skills are garbage. I think I have a good eye for content, I just don’t have the skills to capture it with any sort of finesse. Even so, I’m a big fan of creating new traditions for yourself and your life. It’s really a way of living your best life and if you are not living your best life YOU ARE A FAILURE. You’re not. I’m here to tell you you’re allowed to be less than perfection and you can be a slug human at least one day every week and still be a good person. One of my traditions is to take pictures of fungi when I’m on vacation. I’ve seen fungi on the coast of Virginia, the temperate rainforests of Oregon, the state parks of Door County. I also take pictures of slugs and snails, but that’s for another article. What draws me to fungi is that they are quiet about their place in the world.
Fungi don’t wave it around in your face like that showboat avocado toast. Fungi are varied and beautiful. They come in all shapes and sizes. They come in different colors and patterns. Some of them can even kill you! They are like humans that way. I know people have a big ole’ issue with certain people acting like “special snowflakes”. How do we not feel like special snowflakes when the world around us is full of special snowflakes. Mushrooms are special snowflakes. Heck. Special snowflakes are SPECIAL SNOWFLAKES. What I’m trying to say is I think fungi are really interesting and me feeling that way doesn’t really hurt anybody. If you like shit and it doesn’t hurt anybody you should keep doing it and the rest of us should mind our own business. The end.