Puffball Daddy

In the Rambles custom of providing you with both provocative and traditional nature blogging (my best at any given time), I thought I’d try something new with “Puffball Daddy.” No, there won’t be any slambam thankyamam lyrics to absorb, just a Franklin poem with a puffball growing through it. Puffball photos are sequential over a period of about a week and a half. We didn’t slice up this one for the pan, but we did grab a slightly younger mushroom growing just feet away.

Earthstars, Chanterelles, Destroying Angels

Ten-thousand shapes/ Colors and sizes– fungi/ Grow from the earth’s moist skin,/ From the duff under oak and pine, or open sky./ Soft bodies, fleshed from irrepressible forms,/ Erupt from mycelium, the rootlets underground./ This life, wonderful and various,/ Is gilled, bracketed, bulbous, or tubed/ A kingdom moved from spores/ By wind and water.

If we eat it we can find/ Delight or death, or nothing at all./ Earthstars, Chanterelles, Destroying Angels–/ May have housed the ancient gods/ And goddesses, may have roofed/ The sky of heaven, may have formed/ The lava carpet of hell.

Mushrooms: poems/ Waiting beneath my skin/ For networks of sound and shape/ To meet the page and the ear./ Myriad poems await/ A life in the light, to name/ The spirits of this place.

The spirits of place are what I try to reach and communicate with, whether they take the form of mushrooms, native trout, or thrushes. Those particular energies that manifest in these beautiful forms are what I attempt to share with you.

When I look at “Earthstars,” a chapter in my book, A Rivertop Journal, I again see the photo of my little Phillipson bamboo leaning on a supersize puffer:

“There’s no more avoiding them. I am drawn to mushrooms. For years I have been aware of several common species but my general fascination with the order is a recent thing.

Earthstars: an attractive name for a life-form growing under tall deciduous trees, a small October galaxy on the ground where I look for some relationship between the living and the dead. Little can be known about them now. I’m not even sure I’ve made the right identification. Are they earthstars… of the field guide, or perhaps some kind of puffball? … Something thrives sedately here, indifferent to my presence, yet no less alive than I…”


About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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2 Responses to Puffball Daddy

  1. Junior says:

    Impressive growth when viewed against the trusty ol’ blue mug. Where is that mushroom growing?

    • Junior, It’s growing in the front yard, SW corner of house, almost directly below your front window. When it gets big enough I might carve a guest room out of it!


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