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 is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

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!!!

Leave a Reply to newmoonideacompany Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: