SARAH HOLLIMON STAGG

I bet you didn’t know there is a mushrooming trend of embracing...mushrooms. As best I can tell, it is rooted in California among pharmacology students who believe there is medicinal value to some of the more psychedelic ‘shrooms and so want them decriminalized. The move has spread to Michigan, where they recently celebrated their first ever mushroom festival. Plus, you’ll never guess this year’s hottest hair color trend — or maybe you will simply from the power of deduction since this is all about mushrooms. It’s mushroom brown. 

And then there is an actual mushroom fan club of foodies who have taken to the streets across the nation for a tour of different regions to explore mushroom recipes that would appeal to that specific area. We in the south will have our turn with mushroom chicken and dumplings. I will try to keep an eye out for them and let you know when they hit our area.

The reason I know all this is because of what had the audacity to pop up in our backyard last week. Y’all, when I tell you that this mushroom had hair...it had hair! I noticed it out our kitchen windown after I let TikiSue out to have a backyard adventure and watched as she made a strange bee line around a part of the yard just off the patio. I could tell she was giving something a wide berth, so I stuck my head out the back door to investigate. I immediately saw what looked like the underside of a section of carpeting. You know that chunky foam underneath carpet that you see when you rip it up? It is kind of turquoise and yellow and unpleasant. Well, that’s what I thought it was. And even if we didn’t have a very tall privacy fence that blocks old carpet weilding passersby from throwing things in our yard, it would be odd for this item to be on our property, so I actually stepped outside to get a closer look. About five steps out the back door I noticed the hair...and froze. That’s how jarring this thing was. It, to use an adage that now has a tested meaning to me, stopped me in my tracks. Since I was barefoot, as I usually am, I felt a bit vulnerable but tiptoed a bit closer just to be sure I was seeing what I was seeing. 

There in all its disgust was a mushroom that spanned bigger than my palm and fingers with my fingers splayed out wide. And, did I mention it had hair? It had little gray tufts circling its outer edge that were long enough that I bet they swayed in the breeze. Of course, I whipped out my phone to get pictures and then shared it on Facebook.  I jokingly said we would be charging 10 cents at the gate for anyone who wanted to come see this spectacle in person. 

Do you know someone actually left us four dimes on the stepping stones around the ‘shroom? Turns out, local home schooler Sheree Wooten turned the thing into a school lesson-field trip for her three boys and thought it’d be funny to leave the coins. (It was. I got quite a little giggle over that). 

So there was this mushroom, and it led me to the Internet to see if I could get some facts about it since I have never seen anything like this in my whole life — the underside of carpeting doesn’t count. All I found were the various articles full of the facts and ideas I shared at the beginning of this week’s visit. So, I sent a picture to Crossett neighbor and wildlife officer Joe Williams. He was busy when he got the text, so he couldn’t go into detail with me, but he promised to do some asking around about my fungal friend. I’ll let you know what he comes up with when he gets back with me.

Before this mushroom became what it became, it was a perfect looking large burnt orange mushroom. I have seen a lot more in other Crossett yards so brace yourself to possibly see more of the hairy versions. It is fascinating to me that after 46 years on this earth there can still be things never seen before. And as we enter a new Fall here in Crossett it occurs to me how even things seen before can still be breathtaking. Drive down Ray Lochala Road and get a good eyeful of the yearly yellow swath of autumn wildflowers that blanket both sides. Ride Waterwell Road and check out the maroon tipped weeds that grow taller than I am. Be sure to watch them ripple in the breeze your car causes. They are there every year yet worth noticing every time. Watch fall unfold here in Crossett and be amazed for the umpteenth time at how gorgeous our town is.

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