Poetically September, my birth month, is the best time to observe above ground fungal display.
In 2001, during the difficult and overtly leaden days that directly proceeded September 11th, a birthday mushroom hunt in my honor had been previously planned on the grounds of my good friend's home in Pennsylvania. Questioning whether we should proceed with the gathering, we went ahead, needing something just to feel life affirming... if only for a day.
The party required two costume changes: T.O.C. garb for the mushroom hunt — replete with mushrooming sticks, baskets and knives — followed by fifties style attire for the cocktail soirée to follow.
As we wandered through the moist woods, with its damp fragrance of loam and dead leaves, a member of the party would direct me to some fantastical fungi sighting where I would not find the promised mushroom but a package instead.
The packages were gathered up in our baskets along with the occasional mushroom, then opened creek-side at a clearing where an assortment of wooden chairs were waiting along with a bottle of champagne nestled in a float, buoyed in the center of the cooling stream.
It was one of those days that stood out as if it too floated on a cooling stream, buoyed up in direct contrast to the excruciating density of smoke and fear and loss that was a constant at the time, and for this one day we let ourselves go back to a time, any time, “before.”