The Mushroom Farmer, Book Two, Chapter 3

The penumbrae came upon the mf suddenly, along with immediate understanding they had been with him ever since he became alive.

“That’s a prismatic lens flare,” the mf’s self-dispensing optometrist spoke into his ear.

“Very much so,” observed the mf’s True Inner Self, the Standard-Bearing mf among the many varietals of personality inhabiting his brainpan.

‘Twas a lens flare indeed from the streetlight around the block from the mf’s home, from whence he had ventured at twilight with his little doggy Blip for a once-in-a-while walk. Blip was delightedly scurrying the full length of his extend-a-leash, resuming his scholarship of neighborhood scent. If only we all had Blip’s unquenchable curiosity combined with his resolve to go back for a second, third, fourth, fifth and so forth sniff.

Mmmmm…. Blippy! What is it about that particular sub-shrub? That particular fallen palm frond? Whatever it was involved exquisite connoisseurship that would have made the mf wonder, as usual, why he didn’t take Blip out for a walk more often if not on humanitarian or the canine equivalent of humanitarian grounds, then out of respect for Blip’s inexhaustibly discerning intelligence.

That was a question worth pondering, but right now the mf was experiencing mystic revelation and anyway, you could make all the resolutions you wanted to be a better dog steward but it was all in the doing, so yeah. The point being that fantastic orbs of glory radiating from the streetlight commanded the mf’s devout attention at the moment, so he couldn’t fully commit to being a better dog-walker right this second.

These glorious orbs, he was sure, were always there, and all the more so if you looked for even a fraction of a second longer than usual. The effect was heightened with fogged-up from face-mask eyeglasses, which the mf was indeed very much wearing. He knew from reading Annie Dillard‘s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek about the blurred vision required to see things as they are. The mf was first-and-foremost a book-learner; he wasn’t a wipe-your-eyeglasses sorta guy.

Thus, through the eyeglass mist of his own masked breath, the penumbrae sang gaily, around and around. They very much looked like somebody’s eye; somebody like the sky here at twilight, the softest sweetest saddest orange, together with some of orange’s beloved cousin yellow and the endless expanse of love-me-now-because-I’m-going-away-momentarily blue.

So much blue, so soft and sad and sweet due to its imminent disappearance: the blue sky of twilight, experienced by the mf as the body containing the eye containing the full-spectrum iris strobing towards him from from streetlight after streetlight and from the gleaming headlights of approaching cars.

The mf accepted the situation for what it was: he was having a vision. He kept his cool, did not ascend nor drool, though it would have been okay if he did. I’m not here to judge, just trying to be a good witness. Speaking of which, from my admittedly privileged vantage point, I overheard a snippet of conversation that I hope you’ll agree is germane.

“‘There’s no such thing as artificial light,'” the mf’s True Inner Self observed.

“What about cruelly too-bright light like the blinding fluorescence of the Invisible Man’s room at the start of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison?” asked a different voice, pretty far back in the room of the mf’s mind, not exactly sure who this was but if I had to guess I would say T.S. Elliot based on the spectacles — round at the bottom, flat on top — perhaps themselves befogged.

“Cruel is real,” said the mf’s True Inner Self, while the penumbrae pulsed towards him still; still in concentric, flowing circles; still flaring all the colors and especially tans and whites and blacks.

“I’m being drawn to the light,” observed the mf’s True Inner Self.

All the mf’s other inner voices stopped what they were doing and took a deep breath, all together.


“Eh,” said the deep breath upon being exhaled. “This is not new news.”

The mf’s other inner voices were like a saloon crowd in an old-time Wild West movie. Everybody got back to doing what they were doing before the mf’s True Inner Self turned their heads. He got into different things at different times. Now it was light. Before it was goats. Before that, guitar. It’s always something with the mf.

He read an article once entitled, “So You’ve Purchased a Rutabaga.” This is how he felt about his revelation, which, to boil it down comes to “We’re surrounded by eternal light.” He didn’t shrug it off; nor did he find a cliff’s edge to sit upon cross-legged in a loin cloth with his thumb and middle fingertips pressed lightly together. The mf is not a loin cloth kind of guy. He’s more of a let’s take it into consideration kind of guy.

It’s like baseball lifer Whitey Herzog, cunning manager of the relentless St. Louis Cardinals, used to say: “It’s not so much the big games themselves as how you play in between them.” With this maxim ever in mind, the mf tends to the one seedling left behind on his “Please Enjoy” take-a-seedling stand. It is a droopy, failure to thrive cabbage, dehydrated and pin-holed by cabbage moths. But not dead. Oh ho, not dead at all.

droopy little cabbage

The mf takes the droopy little cabbage back to the backyard, waters it, props it up against a clay pot of thriving Red Russian kale. Furthermore, he dons goggles, gloves and facemask (they come in handy for many things, not just avoiding contagion) and puffs diatomaceous earth out upon all of his tender lettuces, kales, broccolis and other vegetales in both the back and front yard from a fun accordion-shaped plastic yellow dispenser. Squeeze the dispenser, out comes a puff of diatomaceous earth: tiny little bits of razor sharp pulverized fossil shells that work their way into and then shred cabbage moths. Sorry guys. Eat all the vegetales you want, just not the mf’s. Please.

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.

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