I leave for my walk hoping that it will help calm my mind and still the energy swirling inside me. Following my usual route, I cross the pond and head into the woods. The trail leads me upstream of our pond, and along what used to be the edge of the stream. This area was recently invaded by beavers who dammed a culvert, then extended their dam to create a huge expanse of water. One of my neighbors, impressed by its size, called it a beaver lake.
After walking along the banks of this now beaver lake, I head up a small hill, circle back along another trail, turn left and climb upward. Arriving at a flat area, I walk to a large rock outcropping, where I stop to pray.
My prayer begins with gratitude; I give thanks for the many blessings in my life. Digging deep into my heart, I express my sense of going round and around in circles, of feeling ungrounded. I ask for help, for guidance on where to go next.
Finishing my prayer, I bow my head, then amble toward a large oak tree growing in the middle of large rocky outcroppings. After circling the tree, I stand and calmly look around, inhaling the view.
My eyes suddenly zoom in on a bright yellow patch growing out of the trunk of a fallen oak tree. Unable to suppress my excitement, I exclaim aloud, “Wow! That looks like a chicken mushroom.”
I walk over for a closer look, and confirm my initial impression. Yes, it’s unmistakably a chicken mushroom – one of my favorite mushrooms to eat. Like most edible mushrooms, it also has medicinal benefits.
Staring at the beautiful mushroom, I think about the mycelium growing underground, for a mushroom is the fruiting body of this web-like network of cells. Mycelia are our planet’s great recyclers, transforming “dead” trees and other matter (even toxic waste) into vibrant, nutrient rich soil.
Mushroom guru Paul Stamets considers mycelium to be the neurological network of nature, for these membranes are in constant molecular communication with their environment. They not only sense what is going on around them, they respond accordingly.
Mycelia comprise Earth’s underground communication system. Vast mycelia networks enable trees and plants to communicate with one another. They serve as nature’s internet.
My recollection of Stamets’s teachings comes to a close. Caressing Chicken Mushroom’s thick, velvety flesh, I admire her luminescent orange-yellow color while my nose moves closer to sniff her delicious aroma. Inhaling her essence, I ask whether she would be willing to let us eat her for dinner. Receiving what I take to be an affirmative response, I bid Chicken Mushroom a temporary farewell, for I intend to return later with a knife and basket for harvesting.
Resuming my walk, I feel grateful for this reminder of interconnection. As my feet make contact with the ground, I sense my roots descending into earth, connecting with the web-of-life immediately below. Feeling deeply grounded, focused and calm, I tap into Gaia and send her my love.