So far I haven’t died.
That seems like a good thing.
Practical Man found a giant puffball yesterday, when he was out in our forest. When he told me how large it was, I decided I had to see it for myself.
Out in The Nature, as it were.
This tells you what a momentous occasion it was. Me, out in The Nature, in the middle of the week, no less.
We ventured out today after lunch, across the yard, down our forest path and back to the last part of our trail, before it ends at the farmer’s lane. I pointed out what I thought were new trees and Practical Man assured me that those trees had been there for 10 years. I noted the grassy areas where there used to be just rocks and he shook his head.
Things sure do change in The Nature, when you only come out to visit a few times a decade.
Finally, under the trees, off the trail, I saw it.
I didn’t see any fairies dancing.
But, then, this wasn’t a toadstool. It was a puffball.
I picture Rubenesque fairies (of the sort I could blend in with), eating ice cream under this cherubic baby.
Or rather, babies.
There were two.
A giant puffball and a super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious puffball. The giant-est puffball of them all.
It’s hard to capture the scale, when it’s in the forest, but it was GIGANTICO.
Bigger than my head and we all know that my head is blessed with some magnificent largesse.
This mushroom was endowed with some encephalic proportions, yes sirree.
Here’s a picture of it in the kitchen sink, in case you had any doubts about the size of it.
The puffball, not my head.
I was slightly nervous, what with it being a wild mushroom and all. Practical Man knew what it was (Calvatia gigantea) but, to reassure his suburban-born wife, he did a little extra research. The Google assured us that it was the harmless and edible Giant Puffball (The Google is always truthful and wise, as long as you don’t believe much of what it says.) And, our friend, Trail Diva, reassured me that we seemed to be the lucky owners of a forest delicacy.
Fried in some butter, it could even be used in lieu of noodles for lasagna, she said.
She had me at “fried in some butter”.
Accordingly, Practical Man plucked it from its forest home and brought it to the house.
It was kind of like bringing home the moon.
A moon that might kill us with its toxins and pent-up mushroom rage.
What, what, what?
A puffball is a pretty show-offy mushroom with its moon scape-y shape and super-cali-fragi-listic-expi-ali-docious size, I think you’ll agree. This made me wonder if it might be the mean girl of the mushroom world.
You can tell I love The Nature, right?
We had to use a very big, bread knife and even that wasn’t enough to deal with the extravaganza of mushroom we had on our hands.
Houston, we need more counter space!
I can hear my friend Pippi saying, “Bleeech”, as I write this.
Not a mushroom fan, that one.
Even I was slightly overcome. This was bigger than the watermelon we had last week and that took a party and 4 meals to devour.
We have mushroom enough for crowds.
Or, for a wicked show-and-tell at school.
Yes, definitely that.
Except, there’s no show-and-tell when you’re an adult, more’s the pity. Many a meeting could be livened up with some show-and-tell, don’t you think?
I’m not sure mushrooms would make it past the (inevitable) safety checkpoint on the way to work show-and-tell, though.
Anyway, we cooked it, outside on the barbecue (it’s the expensive hydro rates in the afternoon and it’s 30 degrees C today, that’s why).
Fried in butter, ‘cos those were our instructions.
We both tried a little schnibble, after it had been fried.
(I watched for convulsions, in case Practical Man and The Google and Trail Diva were wrong.)
It tastes pretty good but we’re not sure about the consistency.
Slightly mushy. Too much butter?
Is there such a thing?
We’ve decided we’ll make lasagna a la Trail Diva with it.
Even though the Italians are probably rolling over in their gnocchi-lined graves.
And Pippi is probably saying, “Double Bleech.”
By the way, this post is a bit of a “do not try this at home” affair. Don’t–I repeat: DON’T just grab mushrooms out of your yard and chow down.
Gotta be careful with the fungi, friends.
If we end up hallucinating or dying, I’ll let you know.
I think I owe The Nature an apology.
If you read this blog with any regularity, you may recall that I do tend to complain about The Nature a lot. Since childhood, I have avoided it like…well, like mosquitoes and poison ivy and frostbite and wind burn. But, I realized today that I don’t, in fact, truly dislike The Nature, as much as I sometimes think I do.
I just like the Starbucks version of nature.
I like the Frank Sinatra version.
That is, I like it my way.
Like today: today was The Nature at its sparkly winter best.
It was the kind of sunny, crisp and perfect day that we often get here in southern Ontario, Canada. The kind of day where, you can bundle up a bit and snuggle into some cozy mittens and a good coat’s hood. You can pretend that you’re in a little cave in your hood and the wind can howl but you’re all snugged up in your hood (as long as the wind is cooperating and blowing in the right direction) and you can giggle to yourself and marvel at how much better a hood is than a mere hat, even though hats are among your most favourite things in the whole world.
Then, when you get out in The Nature, you breathe the clean, cold air and act as if you totally meant to fall on your face as you skid off a patch of snow while attempting to stomp around in your–magnificent hood but, unfortunately also–boots that don’t have anywhere near enough traction.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a woman on her keester.
Today wasn’t a snow pants day (but remind me to talk about that some other day because snow pants are one of life’s great joys that not enough adults indulge in) and it wasn’t a snowshoe day, so I was wearing my quasi-citified boots, instead of my “I mean Canadian winter business, heavy as two Godfather cement bricks boots” (which perhaps explains the falling on my face).
Anyway, triple axle achieved, I wandered back through our property, traipsing through the skiff of snow with intention, with purpose. I put stray thoughts of rabid packs of coyotes out of my mind and pretended that The Nature and I were old pals and bosom friends. Into the Woods (humming songs from the play/movie), I went.
Then, I segued onto the farmer’s lane that joins our property and walked up to the giant field.
And, not just any giant field: this is a giant field of dreams.
That is, the field that a kindly neighbour has plowed around the perimeter. It is a cross-country skiing/snowshoeing/traipsing around in your quasi-citified boots masterpiece.
So around it, I went. (If you build it, they will come–or in my case, traipse, while trying not to fall on my keester again).
Last year, The Nature was having one of its temper tantrums and the ground was covered in a thick layer of ice with a gigantic pile of snow on top for the entire winter. There was no perimeter on the field of dreams. There was only heartache and sweating and occasional hysterical laughter as we tried to snowshoe in drifts up to our hips.
But today, it was grand. All the cells and atoms and thing-a-ma-bobs in my heart and brain and elbows went “boing, boing, boing” as they filled up with sunshine and started dancing around inside me, filling up my cozy mitts and magnificent hood.
No wonder I felt a little dizzy.
I traipsed on, around and around the field I went, holding my arms out at the sides to steady me so I wouldn’t fall over while my sunshine cells did their dancing.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a dizzy woman walking.
Then, I thought it: the thing that makes me realize I need to apologize to The Nature:
I thought these four, incredible words: “I am having fun.”
In The Nature.
And, with a gasp, I realized that today is not the first time that has happened.
As you were, neighbours. Nothing to see here but a mostly-indoor woman enjoying The Nature.
I had a run-in with The Nature today.
It tried to fool me with its sunshine and lovely temperatures.
And then, it attacked my ankles.
It’s my own fault, really, for not putting on the bug juice that Practical Man pointedly left out for me. Perhaps it was The Nature’s way of evening the score. After all, I was yanking and digging grass and weeds out of our flowerbed with some zeal. That’s probably tantamount to a leg wax for The Nature. And, it was much too warm today for me to sport my trademark out-in-The-Nature rubber boots. Mocked by many, my rubber boots have prevented plenty of unjustified assaults by The Nature and I L-O-V-E, LOVE them. But today, I recklessly left them inside and trotted out into the great vampire bug, all-you-can-eat-buffet, brazenly naked around the ankles.
I hate it when things are my own fault, don’t you?
The flowerbed and I have called a cease-fire so I have time to smear myself with liberal doses of anti-itch goo (which is apparently flammable, it says on the label!) everywhere I can find evidence of The Nature’s wrath. Note to self: Do not use anti-itch goo while camping and then try to warm ankles by the fire.
Flaming ankles would be much worse than itchy ankles, even I can admit. You may laugh but, I can’t be too careful. I come from a long line of accident-prone people (including one person who cut herself, to the point of bleeding, on an onion bun.)
Flaming ankles are totally in the realm of possibility.
On the plus side, before I foolishly headed out into The Nature, we spent the morning wandering yard sales in Westport, a quaint waterside village nearby. The whole town was having a festive time trading their own junk for their neighbour’s junk, because at a mere 10 or 25 cents for many items, “how could you lose?” You apparently couldn’t because it was a phrase I heard repeatedly, as we wandered.
I found this and immediately had a crush:
Everyone should have a pink punch bowl with nine matching cups, don’t you think?
And, at a mere $10, how could you lose?
Actually, $10 is less a crush and more a commitment for me. So I hemmed and hahhed for all of three seconds and then someone walked by and said to her friend, “how could you lose?” and I took it as a sign.
You can’t mess with that kind of magic.
I’m not into pedigree, especially when it comes to old stuff. I just like what I like. But, I am curious about this. It doesn’t have any maker markings that I can find. It seems to have a sort of strawberry pattern to it and it’s heavier than depression glass, although similar in hue. A search online yielded nothing that resembled it, so now I’m even more curious. I doubt it’s valuable, I just wonder what vintage it comes from.
Here is what it looks like up close:
The pattern is slightly raised and bumpy.
Not unlike my poor, poor ankles.
But, at least they’re not on fire yet.
I have heard it told that in every relationship, someone is the gardener and someone is the flower.
Apparently, in our house, I am the…can you guess?
But wait! I think you’re wrong.
So, try again please…I beg you to re-consider.
Which do you think I am?
The gardener? or…
…REALLY? That’s your guess?
If you guessed the flower, you are not alone.
I don’t like being the flower, even though a woman being the flower does harken back to something rather vintage. All that “the fairer sex” stuff. My Grandma Verna actually told me recently that when my Grandpa Howard had an accident at work in the ’50s, one of the doctors wrote in his report, “the patient’s wife is a seemingly intelligent woman.”
Seemingly intelligent. Because you know, intelligence is often suspect when it comes to the fairer sex.
Anyway, being the flower is new for me. I’ve never been the flower before. In past relationships, I was always the gardener; the very determined gardener, trying to get a (large and I was sure, misunderstood) weed to magically transform into the beautiful sunflower I just knew it was inside. I am a people-pleasing, care-taking, co-dependant, gardener sort of gal.
Still, I conducted a little survey among our friends. An innocuous little survey about gardeners and flowers. Traitors that they are, they all agreed that when it comes to Practical Man and me, I am definitely the flower.
Positively, definitely, no doubt about it, they said.
Harumph. Who needs friends anyway?
Well, fine then, if I must be the flower, I like to think I’m a daisy. They’re my favourites. They look so cheerful and they’re very natural (that is, not high maintenance at all) and of course, vintage, if you look at any wedding bouquet photo from 1972.
However, even I can admit that sometimes, just occasionally, I am less like a daisy and more like the 40+ kinds of roses Practical Man used to grow in our yard when we lived in suburbia. Or, the rose in one of my favourite books, “Le Petit Prince“. That is, just a teensy-tiny bit high maintenance.
Just, the odd time. For example:
1) I am afraid of cows, like in a shrieky sort of way (not an especially handy quality to have when you live in the country).
2) I can’t drink alcohol or I’ll faint.
3) I can’t get too hot or I’ll faint.
4) I can’t stay up past 9:00 pm two days in a row or I’ll faint.
5) I can’t shriek or I’ll faint (see cow problem above).
6) I can’t go on an airplane or I’ll faint (and cause an international incident where I’m almost banned from flying even though I’m thousands of miles and an ocean away from home in a German airport all by myself with somehow, unfairly, NO Ritter Sport chocolate bars on my person, but that’s another story).
You may be sensing a theme. There’s more but the long and the short of it: I’m like one of those fainting goats. Well, not so much recently because I take medication that actually works, thank goodness. But, that medication came about because of astute observations made by Practical Man which in turn, helped doctors finally figure out, after 17 years of swooning, what was wrong with me. Once again, proving that I am (darn it!) the flower.
7) You already know how I am with The Nature.
8) But you probably don’t know that I have a thing about chewing. Can’t stand to hear it. Even three rooms over. If I’m ever captured and tortured for state secrets, all they have to do is chew raw carrots in my vicinity and I’ll spill the beans (and possibly some of their blood) immediately.
9) Also, I must eat my potato chips in a certain order (broken ones first, then ones that are misshapen, then ones with bubbles until I finish with one perfect chip). I don’t know why. But, I realized a few years ago that my mother does the same thing so I’m pretty sure there’s a potato-chip-ordering gene that scientists haven’t quite discovered yet. There should be a study and then me and my mom will be vindicated (I can hear you mocking us even now) because the potato-chip-ordering gene could help solve important world problems, I’m sure of it.
10) I can’t tilt my head more than 20 degrees in any direction without getting spinny. I know, I know. You already heard that I was fainty. But, see, this is spinny, not fainty. Spinny and fainty are totally different sensations but I’m pretty sure that they both add up to the same thing.
That is: that I am the flower.
Luckily, like my Grandma Verna, I’m also seemingly intelligent.