all I ever wanted
Driving up to the mountains to celebrate our anniversary, wild mushrooms, and late-season ripeness in the high country, Rose suggests putting on a record (the Luddite doesn’t fall far from the tree). We insert the mixed tape I made Dan in 1995, called Songs For Your 24th Year. Every song is still ours. Looking for that woman-girl/Who knows love will endure/And you know it will. (Although the kids thought this one was theirs: Stop children what’s that sound/everybody look what’s going down).
Late season mountains: the skeeters are mostly gone, wildflowers are mostly gone (save for bright purple gentians popping in the sea of tawny grasses). Just being amongst the withering mountain plants exhaling their sweet, heady ripeness, feels like attending the ceremony: change. We head out each day with basket, knife, paintbrush (to brush dirt off mushroom stems) and mental search images of chanterelles and boletes. Voices ring out through the spruce trees, “Here’s one! Oh, here’s another!” Rose finds oozing hot pink fungi and tells me, “If I liked mushrooms, I’d eat the pink ones.”
We don’t find chanterelles, but eat boletes (porcinis) with every campfire meal. They taste like slippery meat and squiggle around our mouths activating tastebuds that have been asleep since last August.
The outdoor mushroom drying rack, naturally.
We tell the kids, “eleven years ago right now we were driving the truck, all gussied up, heading to our wedding, er, an hour late.” “Was I in the backseat?” Rose asks. “Eleven years ago now we were dancing,” we tell them, “all of us, even Baba.” “I remember that part,” Col says, nodding. I know what they mean, it seems crazy that they weren’t there. Crazy that the biological undertow pulling me down in my late 20’s, thrumming have baby now have baby now didn’t include a sneak preview of these actual children, whose very faces reflect the fire light, their presence as solid and immutable as Sheep Mountain looming over our camp.
Father/son meadow nap.
We sit at the campfire for hours, children on our laps (why do we even bring four camp chairs?) begging for stories from our childhoods. Mine are all recounts of sugar-crazed rule-breaking, and the kids gasp and giggle admiringly as if beneath my Mama-uniform I’m actually the Superhero of Naughtiness. Dan, as usual, balances everything out with wholesome tales of eating enormous after-school bowls of ramen with his doting grandma. The kids snuggle in tight and request more stories, more! enjoying the unlimited access to parents who have nothing much to do other than add a log to the fire and tailor stories to their precise delight.
Throughout the weekend, I keep thinking, as we find, clean, slice and eat more mushrooms, “What a wild mushroom trip we’re on with the kids,” which makes me giggle a little as I squeeze Rose’s hand, wending through the trees, eyes on the ground. We pop boletes in the basket, Col finds an owl feather, Rose shares every thought that scrabbles across her mind, the kids complain about too much hiking, Col loses the swiss army knife I gave him approximately 37 hours earlier, the mountain plants lay their weary spent heads down. And I am certain this wild mushroom trip with the kids, this life, is all I ever wanted.
More mushroom stories and fungal socialism, 6512-style, here.