The Mushroom Farmer, Book Three, Chapter 5

The mf has reached out.

Help me, he pleaded, to strangers. Help me to know what I am doing, and also to succeed.

That wasn’t the whole thing word for word. He spruced it up. But that was the gist.

Was this a good pitch? It sounds open-ended to me. I like open-endedness. However, what the mf put out there sounds much more like prayer than networking.

I’m okay with prayer too. Nothing wrong with a good prayer. They can be answered — in my experience, typically along the lines of the Lord helping those who help themselves.

Which is why the mf focused on planting more lettuce, kale, and onions in the parkway garden. First he dug up the scraggly grass closest to the curb, along with some pretty little yellow flowers that he roughly transplanted to the border. He could really have been more tender with those little yellow flowers which had purely been minding their business of being pretty and low to the ground.

Give the mf a shovel and something changes

Give the mf a shovel, though, and something changes. He wants to dig, he wants to disrupt, he wants to assert his will. If the perfect things happened, mf, what would they be?

MF: An eight million pound head of lettuce would grow overnight, with flavors of sweet and sizzle, along with another kind of deliciousness like watching a river flow. This miracle lettuce would divide itself up into four pound chunks and fly on easily biodegradable saucers to each of the two million food insecure people in Los Angeles.

Steno Pad (my alter ego for interviewing the MF): I like the part about the river flow. But wouldn’t the eight million pound head of lettuce crush your house? And the neighbors’ houses, too?

MF: That’s why I reached out to these feed-the-people specialists, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. I just answered your question as honestly as I could, and now you’re criticizing me.

SP: OK — brainstorming! Would it always be lettuce?

MF: No, thank you for asking. Lettuce one day, kale the next. Carrots, broccoli, Hungarian wax peppers. It would rotate so as not to become boring. Even though the people could choose their own flavors, including a mystery flavor guaranteed to be delicious so as to prevent people from becoming bored with their own taste.

SP: Clever! I’m still hung up on the size thing, though. Eight million pounds, that’s 4,000 tons. I visualize that as 4,000 pickup trucks. You could park three pickup trucks in front of your house.

MF: Yes, and then if just 1,333 other people produced that much magical food from their parkway gardens: problem solved. Except for the part about the food harvesting and distributing itself.

SP: This matches my understanding that there is already enough food to feed everyone in Los Angeles; what’s missing is the infrastructure.

MF: Yes, and I’m waiting for those feed-the-people experts to get back to me on that.

SP: So much waiting. Waiting for mushroom spores to grow. Waiting for people to get back to you.

MF: I know, right?

SP: Yeah.

And there we must leave it for the time being. History does record that the mf wrote “Everything is Free” on the plastic table cloth covering the salvaged coffee table where he occasionally leaves produce for the taking. He left out four packets of free vegetables for the taking — two of kale and two of lettuce, (non-magical) as well as two potted lemon trees. When he went back out later, the kale and one lemon tree were gone but the lettuce was still there, pre-wilting, so he brought it back in to freshen up in a bowl of water so his wife could make spring rolls.

And now, you’re just about up-to-date. The mf wants to plant barley between the blueberries. Maybe he’ll do that before he goes to play tennis for the first time in a year since he is now double-vaccinated.

He also does have a long, unsolicited e-mail from a fellow teacher with much food bank experience. This e-mail appeared like magic lettuce moments after he reached out to the experts. It appears to be full of practical suggestions for next steps on the parkway gardening enterprise. He didn’t really read it line-by-line though because it was so long and he wanted to get out and plant more stuff in the front before he got distracted.

Isn’t it funny how we ignore the answers that are right in front of us?

What do I mean by “we”?

Oh, okay, just the mf then. Fine. Isn’t it funny how the mf, alone among humankind, ignores the answers that right in front of him.

That is funny, and I’ll tell you why — that’s the very nature of humor, misfortune striking someone else. You might say — you’re very talkative today — I like it — isn’t that tragedy, though? And to that I would say, yup.

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.

2 thoughts on “The Mushroom Farmer, Book Three, Chapter 5

  1. I, too, like the River Flow part. Makes me think the mf might be subconsciously embedding bd lyrics into the Glog (garden blog), like a wilted lettuce leaf waiting to be spring rolled.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: