Mushroom Magic

By , July 31, 2012

If you’d visited the homestead last week, you might be excused for believing that we practiced totemic or fetishistic magic. We appeared to be calling mushrooms.

Last Christmas, Aly knitted me a mushroom. She thought it was a silly, incidental gift, but it became a sort of talisman for me, something I enjoy carrying with me daily. It’s pretty, it represents something I like, and it reminds me of my sweet daughter. I’ve even thought of pinning it to my sportcoat as a boutonniere, should I ever dress up for anything someday.

It also gave me ideas. I suggested she knit a moss green cap and festoon it with knitted mushrooms. I also saw the possibility of making mushroom-shaped beanbags. Now that Aly’s home for a summer visit, and has a few moments now and then to knit, she’s trying a few bean bag mushrooms.

knitted mushrooms

A few of Aly’s knitted mushrooms (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

We have just the “beans” for this project, as we have finally given up on eating any more of the old canned split peas we inherited with the property. Through hard experience we’ve concluded that if we use them in bean bags, there’s virtually no chance of them ever absorbing any moisture!

So, last week she started cranking out mushrooms, manipulating the basic pattern to create representations of local varieties, chanterelles and a fly agaric/amanita to add to the king bolete she’d made for Christmas. She also plans to try to recreate the distinctive pattern of hawk wings.

This representational art makes me think of fetishistic magic, as does the dangle of mushroom-shaped beads Aly made to decorate my devil’s club walking stick. If there’s any magic in the practice, it has paid off. Within days of knitting the latest mushroom, chanterelles, birch boletes, and king boletes began to appear on the forest floor, along with a wide variety of non-edible (or at least bland tasting) mushrooms. It’s ‘shroom season on the homestead, from now till the first heavy freezes of autumn!

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