The Mushroom Farmer, Chapter 22

The Red Russian kale micro-garden is gone, goodbye; someone took it, exactly as the mf had hoped. This induces positive vertigo, in which the world spins like a wheel of fortune. If this good thing could happen, what other good things might happen?

It’s a wooziness-inducing sensation, akin to opening up a fresh can of tennis balls, with the whoosh but without the acrid odor. Positive vertigo — in the context of growing produce on the parkway between sidewalk and curb, and now also giving away well-planted seedlings — smells like wet dirt. It feels like your feet are trampolines. It looks like Red Russian kale growing in a neighbor’s parkway. The crinkly leaves. The vivid purple stem.

Can the mf cope with success at this level? Face it, mf. A passer-by has indeed taken the kale micro-garden with its six voluptuous craft sticks stuck in the dirt explaining how to nurture kale in English and Spanish. Wait ’til the seedlings are three inches high. Remueve todas pero dos o tres. For the remaining two or three plants, pick only las hojas externas. By picking only the outside leaves, the plant can continue to grow.

It’s all just so beautiful.

The carrot and broccoli micro-gardens are gone-gone too. These were created using thinned-out seedlings that would otherwise have been flicked aside as collateral damage or gobbled up by the mf himself as in the Goya depiction of Saturn devouring his offspring. Saturn, get a grip!

It’s always easier to tell someone else to get a grip. Meanwhile, the mf is still a birthday balloon flying away and away and away, transforming from lost toy to miracle of flight to speck in sky to nothing. Come back, mf! We need you! The champagne oyster mushrooms are starting to sprout!


Oh. That got his attention, and it is also true, a definite plus in this era of self-serve reality. For example, if you think the billionaire president is Superman, guess what? You’re right! Facts? Hah. Sneer. But let’s not infringe on the pundits’ turf. The mf has his own turf and champagne oyster mushrooms have definitely begun to grow upon it, in exact accordance with the process laid out in Chapter Six.

Nascent mushrooms

Cobwebby material appearing amid folds of dead brown banana stalk. Check. Little white dots, botanically known as “pins.” Big check. Oh, the mf has kept the tall, broad-shouldered corpse-sized pile of dead banana leaves moist but not wet and shrouded in single-ply plastic for the three prescribed weeks since inoculating them with spawn, and now, right on schedule, it… is… happening.

Amid a newly rampant strain of virus and suspicion of infiltrators among the National Guard, champagne oyster mushrooms are starting to grow, right on schedule. The mf is just going to have to suck up his success in having three or four passersby accepting his offer of free seedlings. We are entering a new era now. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen fast.

It’s going to mushroom.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky has been writing stories and essays since he was a music snob prodigy in early-1970's San Antonio, Texas. Since then he has written about not only music but also baseball, gardening, teaching, parenting, cycling and the... glory of love. Lit Hub and The Sun have published his work, and so has the Austin Chronicle. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he teaches English to some of the nicest kids in the world at an arts-themed public high school downtown.

3 thoughts on “The Mushroom Farmer, Chapter 22

  1. Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches us that “Puhpowee” is the life force that causes mushrooms to push up from the earth
    (from Braiding Sweetgrass) – so great pubpowee, MF!!!

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