The Mushroom Farmer, Book Three, Chapter 6

Without getting into a whole debate about it with himself, the mf dives naked into his pool.

It is not too cold. That’s what it’s not, but what is it yes?

Splashy!

And then he’s up and out, hoping he has washed away the blahs. He woke up not feeling like doing anything, which is also how he went to sleep, and this is not okay with the mf, who likes to feel go-go-go.

So instead of stewing in lethargy, which he started to do, but then thought, naaaaaah — he jumped in the pool, air-dryed, and then upturned Row 6.

This was an excellent choice and we can be proud of the mf for getting right in there with his trusty red-handled shovel. Go, mf, go! Podemos estar orgullosos de él por su capacidad de movilización.

The red-handed shovel’s blade cut deep into the side-soil. The idea being, fortify the row with its very own side-dirt, which has quietly been accumulating nutrients without having to grow anything other than crabgrass and dandelion and various other go-along-to-get-along weeds.

Oomph, said the blade.

Here we are, said the universe of micro-organisms carrying on their transactions in the diamond district that is dirt. The micro-organisms, fungal in nature, were ready to go for a ride from the side to up in the air and then back down again on top.

Ka-plow-y and ka-ploom: those are the sounds clods of dirt make when they land after a fun trip up up in the air, if you listen, which the mf was doing, but only partly. He was the other part listening to his inner “Dublin Blues” mixtape featuring early morning birdchirp.

Early morning birdchip is of a finer, more melodious, and intertwined quality than the rest of the day birdsounds, dominated by crow caw and parrot cackle. In the early morning, when the sunlight is sliding over the banana trees, you hear little birdy clarinet concerti, which mixed most melodiously in the mf’s mind with Guy Clark, singing with expert regret, about how much he wished he was in Austin.

The mf wished he was in Austin too — but what would he actually do there, he argued with himself. Quaff a Lone Star, quaff two Lone Stars, and then what? It is better to be here, turning over the dirt so that in 23 days we can start growing pumpkins. He had tried starting pumpkins before the official start date of May 1 and the pumpkins did not appreciate being rushed. They let him know this by vanishing from the face of the earth.

Didn’t I just plant pumpkins here? wondered the mf. They looked so rarin’ to go in the seedling tray, but now the little hillocks he prepared so lovingly with dirt and compost and coco fiber are forlorn.

Ghost pumpkin seedlings looked down on the mf from vegetable heaven. They shook their first true leaves and called him names.

Nimrod, they called him, and pumpkin-head.

The mf heard their rebuke over the birdchirp and inner outlaw country and dirt-clod percussion. He responded to this abuse by taking it, because he deserved it. The mf had been overeager. This is a known flaw, known as bias towards action. Sometimes this is fine but don’t plant pumpkins in Southern California before May 1 and expect things to start jumping up from the ground.

The mf is trying to learn a lesson. Be a lesson-learner. Puede hacerlo, mf. Tenemos confiancia en ti.

Row 6

Some good news: it is excellent dirt, ecstatic with worms. Their wriggling will not be denied. This shows us our confidence in the mf is fitting and proper.

Starting May 1 the mf’s rows will be growing not only pumpkin but also chayote, poblano peppers, melon, tomato, sunflowers and not too much else. Barley. Blueberries. Blackberries. Lettuce, spinach, onions, garlic and that’s it. No more growing everything. The mf is only growing stuff he thinks people will want to take away from the little salvaged coffee table between the sidewalk and the curb, or else that he and his wife will enjoy in salads and soups.

And mushrooms of course. Their time is coming too.

Meanwhile the mf harvests many but not all of the remaining oranges. Most of them are hearty. One or two are semi-mushy. He doesn’t harvest all of the oranges because the Book of Ruth says to leave some of what you could harvest behind for other people. The mf is down with that and he also in the very back of his mind imagines a COVID-21 scenario in which they are going to need the oranges at the very top of the tree for survival. That is a grim scenario and the mf accepts the grimness. It goes right along with the wispy clouds and bright green leaves, which show the tree is getting plenty of nitrogen.

He climbs c-a-r-e-fully down the ladder and throws the semi-mushy oranges at the alternative compost heap. He nails the sycamore tree right in front of it. The mf’s aim is definitely improving. He cuts more statice flower to add blue to the oranges, cuts some lavender and one love-in-a-mist flower to add even more blue, then sets up the “Everything is Free” table between the sidewalk and curb in front of his house to give it all away.

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.

One thought on “The Mushroom Farmer, Book Three, Chapter 6

  1. “…the universe of micro-organisms carrying on their transactions in the diamond district that is dirt.”
    Do you suppose the micro-organisms close-up early on Friday?
    …and what might you do in Austin? Perhaps Threadgills and Barton Springs to start.
    Scratch Threadgills…the internet has them closed forever. Road trip to Llano.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: