On a misty June morning in 1853, Thoreau almost literally stumbled on a giant mushroom or toadstool, a fungus of massive proportions which he likened to an umbrella or parasol. It was sixteen inches tall, about seven inches across at the top, with a trunk about an inch in diameter. To his surprise, he found it growing on an exposed hillside. He took it with him to town, careful to walk without jarring its tender structure. People who had never spoken a word to him suddenly gathered around to find out more about it. Some thought he should enter it in a plant exhibition set for the following day. While it oozed, dripped, and eroded in his hand, he said he would consider it if it survived. He took it home and sheltered it in the dark. By morning, all that was left was the stem, some blackened bits, and a puddle of stain. He thought its entire lifespan might have been little more than a day, and was surprised, considering how fragile it was, that it was even able to break through the dry, crusty soil. This reminded me of a clump of mushrooms that sprang up here several weeks ago, through some very firm ground near our vine and apricot tree. It seemed impossible, but there they were. They have long since disappeared, and the ground shows no sign of having been disturbed. It is not difficult to see oneself in that light. In fact, the thought is quiet beautiful.
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Categories: New Poems & Pieces