Oh, the Morels You'll Get!

Morels are harder to find than Chantrels. They're smaller, more drab, more modest. Chantrels burst yellow out of the duff. If you've looked and didn't see a Chantrel, it's not there. Hunting for Morels, the ground feels different. You always feel you're missing something. You could walk over the same patch of ground several times, and still a Morel could be there. There's no finishing; You don't return to the same area only because it's demoralizing to be subjected to the same hopes again.

Time is out of order. You saw it. You were just staring at it, but then, you saw it. You never didn't see it, and you never saw it. The moment never happened, just, maybe, the "oh!"

You get superstitious, or, alternatively, all knowledge about mushrooms is false. If you don't see one for a while, you think it's because you weren't looking hard enough, or not looking in the right way. It seems that when you stop looking, you find one. It feels as if you actually will them into existence. If you believe there's one on the ground, there it is. If you don't find one, it's because you don't have enough faith. You start picturing them on the ground, but every time you do see one, it's not how you had pictured it. That's why you see them in places you've been staring at, looking for something else.

Some of them are rotten, powdery-crumbly, or with slimy black holes. Some of the bad ones you put in your bag anyway.

25 May 2015

Houseplants

Why is it that things that settle the stomach tend to also be nauseating? Good yogurt is gross, and I have it every morning. Spoonfulls of plain, sour yogurt (the best kind) are a kind of--the word I want to use is palliative, but this is just the opposite of what I mean--innoculation. An anomolously large (gross?) number of parents in this town are convinced that innoculations are not innocuous. But that's another misuse of a word; I'm thinking of immunization. To innoculate is to infect, to let go forth and multiply. (So is to immunize, but in a teacup.) I imagine the yogurt coating my throat, my digestion, with its thick innocuousness. I gag. I have to gag a little, for the yogurt to work. Very little in the morning is desirable. Yogurt is morning's grossness at its most primal: a choice to habitually eat, or a habit of choosing to eat. Once I've gotten through the yogurt, I'm prepared to take in all that the day requires me to take in. Unwilling becomes willing through a membrane of disgust swallowed.

Maybe mowing grass is a ritual based on the same principal, creating order through denial, but in this case sadistically. I was floating down a river in a raft recently, past tract after tract of gross real estate. The houses just kept going, beyond the field of vision in more and more alien materials and styles. There was a three-story log cabin, a castle with skylights and a water feature, a villa. There were plastic Adirondacks in colors to match the playground in the yard. The yards were huge and the grass short. The mowed area sometimes extended all the way to the river. One of the owners sued over the extent of their property. They argued that the Rogue River isn't navegable, and therefore their property extends all the way across the river. They didn't like the idea of boats passing by their house, or that someone on the shore is not trespassing, legally speaking. The lawn seemed to insist that this was all theirs. Some of the lawns had little unmowed islands, intricate designs of mowed and unmowed, like facial hair.

When we started out, I was given instructions on following the instructor's instructions. Paddle right, paddle left, paddle all, etc. While he was saying this it looked to me like we were headed right for a rock. I started paddling. Later, my response to his instructions was characterized as "who died and made you king?" But besides that first insubordination I followed his instructions, or tried to. Once he said "paddle right", and the two of us on the left side of the boat began paddling, because we genuinely believed we were on the right. Both of us on that side of the boat often make this mistake in the car, when someone gives one of us directions. I suppose we wouldn't make good sailors. There's a gracefulness, seen from the outside, of crewed boats. Cars on the other hand stutter at stop lights, moving to see, stopping for oncoming cars. You see the driver of a car even if you don't actually see them.

Lately I've been realizing I use ":-P" all wrong. I think people use it when one might actually stick one's tongue out. As a tease. I use it at myself, to make fun of myself. I think it's usually a sadisitic smiley, but I use it masochistically.

At first the German cognate grosse seemed funny to me, one of the largest misunderstandings possible between languages. But it's not such a big jump from "large" to "excessive" to "disgusting".

And then there's "delicate", which seems truly to have body image issues. How else to connect "delicacy", "delicate", and "indelicate"? My slight etymological Google searches leads me to conclude they're all about excess or the lack thereof.

Yogurt isn't rich enough to be a delicacy. Delicacies might make you gag because they're too much. Yet delicacies have a reputation for being acquired tastes, and culturally embedded to the extreme. The word is a way of looking in horror around the world, or announcing one's worldlyness.

"Delicate" seems to have done an about face. Where once it denoted a voluptuous feminine form now it's small, thin. I suppose a delicacy is fragile in that it's often on the verge of rotten, and if something is tender it's likely to be a delicacy.

To be indelicate must be to be on the wrong side of ripe.

All around at this time of the year is the sound of plants being sliced to bits. A mowed lawn or a well-trimmed hedge is neither delicate nor indelicate. It's quite sexless. There's something frantic about the destruction of plant life. Here, it's ostensibly about fire danger. When tall grass & weeds dry in the hot, rainless summer, they can catch fire. In North Carolina there was a neighbor who mowed his lawn every Sunday. We'd see him out there in the late morning, buzzing away on his sit-down lawnmower, smiling. The glee was perturbing. I shudder to think what he'd do if he saw armpit hair on a woman. Perhaps there is a difference between evangelical fervor and arousal.

Hearing weedeaters, chainsaws, and lawnmowers feels a lot like morning. There's that sense of time getting away. I always feel guilty whenever I hear it, for all the yards I have neglected when I've inhabited them. Now is my chance to be self-righteous instead. It feels as if time stretches out with the stalks and leaves and trunks. Maybe that's the disaster averted: Nobody would get anything done.

My landlords, not wanting to be liable for all the gas (read: fire) appliances in the house, sent me a carbon monoxide monitor & alarm. I haven't installed it. Don't get me wrong, I'm terrified of death. Yet the possibility of dying in my sleep doesn't seem to bother me. All the smoke alarms are lying on a table disembowled of their batteries, too. Mutiny is only one problem. For the ship to sail, the crew must be on the ship.

20 May 2015