Friday, September 23, 2011

A Wet and Mushroomy Autumn Equinox

"Rain", watercolor on paper, 2010

Days slip through my fingers, soggy with rain, spilling one into the next like
overfilled buckets. I can't catch them or mold them into being reasonably functional
vessels of time, they seem to expand or contract easily and not at my command. 
I hear myself using the word "challenged" to describe my current state of being, 
and feel comforted with the knowing that it takes an earthquake to build a mountain. 
Not that I am hoping for a new mountain to form, or that I want another earthquake
(we've had tornados, a hurricane, and an earthquake already this summer), but I trust 
that the skills and strategies I am using to move me through the challenges will be 
useful additions to my toolbox. 

With the hurricane came flooding, roads washed away and houses floated downriver. 
Our town was spared anything too horrible, we lost a few roads and the river ran fast 
and brown and high for many days. 

Rain is so often a gift to the late summer garden, but the plants are bent down flat, 
or leaning sideways, or succumbing to mildews and root rot. They seem a perfect 
reflection of how I have been dancing through life lately, full of hope, reaching 
towards the sun on dry days, but laid flat the next by yet another tropical deluge. 
The constant wet has caused an extraordinary bloom of mushrooms and fungi, 
delighting the squirrels who perch in trees and nibble mushroom caps like pizza. 

Each day a new kind or color emerges from the forest floor, my friend, Boo, found 
these amazing green mushrooms, have you ever seen these?

Emerald mushrooms - photo Alexandra "Boo" Cherau

In just a small bit of the moss garden, quite a variety appeared one day. 

A toad lily graces the woodland garden, 
but I've missed so many of its stories as my 
woodland listening chair is too wet to perch on. 

The mushrooms and constant rains has meant high mold spores in the air and mildew smells in the house to which I am quite allergic. I've been cleaning, clearing, and
organizing to find the bit of cloth that turned green or a table leg with white spots 
forming. Ugh, THIS is one source of my challenge of late. I do see the gifts however, 
as there is nothing quite as wonderful as cleaning every surface of the house to
welcome in the new season. I am impatient for cool days and wood fires to dry me 
and the house out. 

After a whole weekend of cleaning, I decided I must finally make the lamp the 
dark corner of the kitchen was dreaming of. 

I didn't think I had done much art as I sat down to write this post, but I found 
that I have been stealing moments to scribble in a sketchbook, and these have added 
up to a few drawings to share. Below is an idea for a RavenWood sign for the end of 
the road - the raven in the rectangle - another drawing took shape behind it.

A few pages of tree forms:

 When I journey deep down inside myself, I find the root people. Always, in the 
dark places, they look out and remind me. What, exactly they say is nothing 
translatable in words. Their message is a slap of thunder in the middle of the night, 
or a shooting star, or the owl that awoke me last night in the tree right outside. 

They invite me to slip into a cool pond on a full moon night and breathe silver-blue 
light with frogs. Lately I have wanted to steal away in the night, dig down under 
the big hemlock and find the entrance to the root-world. I imagine a great council
of beings dreaming there around the fire, beating drums and singing the earth around 
the sun. Luckily I have my magic pen that can take me there in an instant, for I haven't quite found the right digging stick to get me there for real. 

Oh, and lastly, the chipmunk that Pasha brought inside today just scurried under 
my feet, answering my question of whether s/he had escaped while the door was 
open all day.... what now? 


The Time Sculptor said...

So many fascinating and intriguing images here... and the emerald mushrooms are completely new to me - like gems set in copper! Thank you for sharing your soul songs.

grace Forrest~Maestas said...

i love this whole "song". already
have listened twice. more to come.
your world is the antidote to the
dry dry here...perfect. isn't
that interesting?

Joel Le Blanc said...

Thanks so much for the amazing mushroom photographs. It looks like Vertumnus (the god of changes, autumn and plant growth) has been hard at work in your part of the world.

I recently was paid to do a series of articles on medicinal mushrooms, and got so into the subject I bought a few books on local mushrooms and edible mushrooms. They are so magical, I can't wait for Autumn to roll around in the Southern Hemisphere to start mushroom hunting myself.

Nancy said...

Wow those photos are amazing! I've never seen so many different mushrooms, especially those green ones!
Root people - of course. Too many thoughts here about this...but thanks it fits just right tonight.

ArtPropelled said...

Your drawings of the root people have my imagination skipping and the thought of squirrels nibbling mushroom caps like pizza makes me smile. Love your new kitchen lamp too. Hoping all the moldy smells dry up soon and the chipmunk escapes to the mossy, mushroomy forest. Aah...this post is a wonderful read even knowing of the challenges you are experiencing.

Stille Linde said...

What a deep joy reading your words for this post, Valerianna. The root village is what a root village should be, holes and doorways, opening or closing in front or behind us, shaped by the mystery that creates the Trees ... and you remind me I can make lamps too :D

Velma said...

never have i seen such green fungi! here, it's much dryer, a surprise, really. it will cool off soon. we're in a mild interlude, but so much roadkill indicates the separations of autumn.

Trish said...

What amazing fungi!
I love the lamp you made, beautiful.
I also love your drawings and the root people.
You are flowing with the seasons and journeying deep into yourself.
Much love to you

jude said...

i love the lamp. and the light it brings. water, i have decided the earth will wash us all away one day. saving some wood for an ark. and two bits of every kind of cloth.

Tammie Lee said...

wow, you have been through a lot!
I love those green fungi! I have never seen them, yeah. We on the other hand are having a sparse mushroom season.
I wish you a dry season to help get the mold under control. Lovely that you are finding time for your wonderful art.

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

I visited your blog yesterday in my meanderings, just love the drawings of the trees, especially thankyou for visiting me

Meryl's Tittle Tattle said...

Hello, I have just happened upon your blob, and there are some stunning photographs Also lovely drawings, I shall keep popping in for a look.


Meryl's Tittle Tattle said...

PS. oh dear, finger trouble again, I didn't mean 'blob' of course.

jodi said...

What crazy mushrooms grow over your way! I've been having a wee mushroom obsession over here, reading through identification guides and things, so I'm twice as happy as I normally would be to see these photos.
Wishing you lots of energy to get through the post-storm troubles, and keep making more art!

steven said...

valerianna - it's humbling to notice and experience the very big and the very small of the world. we're much the same. made up of the very big and the very small. all significant and necessary to us in our own way but at times overwhelming and difficult to understand or place in perspective.
i tell my students about the little people who live under trees because the world is filled with magic. the magic is there to remind us of the enduring capacity that this place holds to bring goodness and love into being through something as small as a beautiful green mushroom! steven

chicory cottage said...

love, love, love the mushroom pictures; i think fungi are fascinating. your tree drawings also reminded me of fungal mycelia underground...

Lorraine Young Pottery said...

Your watercolor painting captures the feeling of rain, that shroud of wetness.

I know how you feel about the moisture. I think we are in the same part of the country and it seems much wetter and endlessly moist for a few months now. Your drawings of roots are intriguing, I your writing too.

I'm happy to be following your blog!

Lorraine :-}

Sophie Munns said...

Incredible...first my amazement was at the mushrooms... then your tree drawings.
S x

Donna Iona Drozda said...

A most magical trek through the northernn dampness. Thank you for new fungi views.

We too are burgeoning with 'shroons'...this morning the newspaper reported on Fairy Rings populating the open lawns...they are and they're wonderful.

I thought of you as I drove the mountain roads through West Virginia watching the signs for the town of Ravenwood advancing over the miles.

Your sign is much more fabulous...will you carve it?

Love your new illuminated corner...the lamp is so you.

ramona said...

I love the fungi! Incredible! Toad Lilies are so sweet!

Virginia said...

I also have ancestors living down among my roots. Very helpful friends.

Medieval Muse said...

What beautiful gifts you've discovered.

Before scrolling down to the name I said "Emeralds"! to the lovely green 'shrooms. Haven't seen those before.

The positive and negative shapes of your tree drawings are fantastic.

Valerianna said...

The Time Sculptor - Seems like those mushrooms are new to a LOT of people, I wonder about them...

Grace - thanks.. glad you like my music!

Joel - Sounds like a nice job, I do like drawing mushrooms, though I'm afraid to hunt and eat them!

Nancy - and those mushrooms were in just a small bit of the moss garden, walking out in the forest is mind boggling right now for all the fungi!

ArtPropelled - glad I got your imagination skipping.. you always do mine!

Stille Linde - yes, all that, and making lamps, too!

Velma - I'm waiting for that cooling off.... the smells just won't go away when its humid no matter how much I've cleaned!

Trish - Glad you like the root people, they pop up here and there in sketchbooks and journal entries, thought it was time to give them some world exposure.

jude - oh, yes, two of every kind of cloth... what will I bring?

Tammie - ugh, thanks, today is warm and humid and I CAN"T believe there is still a smell, I'm sooooo not happy.

Janette - glad you like the trees, they are in my bones.

Meryl - well, it IS rather blobby right now with all the mold and melting mushrooms outside!

Jodi - I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and will soon be able to make art regularly again, or at least that's what I think. And we are seeing some mushrooms we have never seen before, especially those green ones, crazy is right!

Steven - glad somebody else is telling the young ones about the root people, very good to hear!

chicory cottage - oh, yes, how about that about the tree drawings, hadn't thought of that.

Lorraine - I'm just over the river in Chesterfield. Soggy and waiting with bated breath for the cool, crisp days!

Sophie - Oh, glad to amaze you!

Donna - not a good carver, I'll probably paint it... I remember there's a Ravenwood VA... interesting.

Ramona - my little toad lilies are not getting near enough attention from me cause I'm focussed on inside right now. Hope when it dries out a bit I'll spend some quality time with them.

Virginia - yes, aren;t they?

Medieval Muse - thanks... since I always harp on my students to pay attention to positive/negative, I'm glad I walk my talk!

illustration poetry said...

oh i adore the root people drawing, so dark!!!!

i would like to be one of them, yes...

Umā said...

Though I miss the mushrooms back at home I don't miss the mildew and mold and though I've only been in New Mexico for four days the cough I've had since July has finally dried up and disappeared...a relief. I will enjoy watching the seasons change through your lens and words this winter.

Barry said...

VA- amazing fungi - exquisite shapes and colours and amazing shots of them - thanks for capturing and sharing. We have lots of rain in Maleny and battle with mould - but one thing that works on most things is clove oil. On furniture add it to furniture oil; on clothe and shoes add it to water.

Valerianna said...

Uma - I can imagine! I've really been dreaming of the colder weather and the wood stove. We're in another few days of heavy rain and the wood is just NOT getting dry or stacked. Luckily it is very seasoned, but I really have to get on it. Glad your cough dried up and look forward to tracking your adventure!

Barry -Thanks for the tip - we don't usually have sooooo much rain and mildew/mold. I've often used cedar oil, but I have a bottle of clove oil cause I love it so... I'll try that!

Valerianna said...

Illustration Poetry - me, too, I think I;ll turn into a root person when I cross over, I'd like the live in the roots for a while!