Sunday, October 2, 2016

the sound of rain & salt, a heap of mushrooms, a little mossi

Oh I love October. I love fall, so much. And now it begins. In all its last-chance glorious boasting, fading, screaming, whispering, dying, living, moping, celebrating, subtle, twirling, colors.

All its uncertainty.

I stand at the top of the riverbank listening to the rain, the drip, drip, drip of water on leaves, gentle, soft, steady, off-beat, but— it is not raining. Falling from leaf to leaf, needle to needle, on to the ground or not are just the remnants of rain, the left-over rain, maybe caught mid-air, a drizzle of rain unto the woods alone.

The river is high, as high as spring and the color of milk chocolate sprinkled with bubbles, tiny marshmallows, and all over these crazy wild mushrooms grow like escapees from a candy bag.

Rain and mist and cloudy days call forth the mushrooms, big balloons blowing up large and bald, white, in the middle of the yard; others tiny, rippled, fleshy, amoeba-like creatures growing low and flat on the slope of the riverbank, growing among the roots, the moss, the lichen on fallen branches living branches slick with rain and just visible, glistening, low afternoon light.

Looking down into the gully I see large, ivory, fan-like mushrooms, trees sprouting wings; walking down the riverbank’s stone steps I lurch to avoid pencil-thin orange-hooded mushrooms poking up through moss.

When it rains, it pours.

I search for the origin of that saying, first finding, to my surprise, that some believe it has a negative connotation, meaning one bad thing following another in great pouring heaps. But I am not feeling it as such. Rather, the opposite. Like a shower of pennies from heaven. And certainly the Morton Salt people weren’t intending to evoke negativity—no, they were just trying to sell free-running salt. See—it’s a good thing. When it rains, it pours. Like pennies from heaven. An advertising slogan.

I went looking for my “Cub Power” button, the one I wore on a brown felt hat in April, 1971.

I knew I still had it, could see it in my keepsake button cigar box along with a few other choice buttons—I Smell A Rat, Pulitzer’s No Prize—but it wasn’t there. I looked in this drawer, that drawer, not expecting to find it, but knowing, anyway, it was somewhere, so went back to the large plastic crate where I keep the keepsake button cigar box along with another cigar box of stuff like my wisdom teeth and a red plastic Oscar Meyer Wiener hot dog whistle; but also in the crate are the playbills from all the shows I’ve ever seen, and that half T-shirt they gave away in the bleachers one day, one year—It’s a Blast in the Bleachers—and what, the Cubs couldn’t afford to give us full-size T-shirts? Also printed on this half-shirt are the nicknames “Zonk,” “Deer,” “J.D.,” “Ryno,” “Bull.” And that night the Cubs TV announcers seem to unspool talking about nicknames so much they finally say there should be a National Nickname Day and if there isn’t one already it should be April 29, the birthday of “Noodles” somebody or other, a long-ago ballplayer—and anyway the plastic crate is filled with such important stuff like that.

So I’m still looking for this pin, this button, and I move something in the crate and that uncovers a yellow plastic pencil box. Wow. I’d forgotten all about that. Thought I had dispensed with that … JOY. Inside the yellow plastic pencil box I find not only the “Cub Power” button but the “I Love Baseball” button and a small baggie of ticker tape from some parade or event—maybe 1984? First time they’d made it to the play-offs in 39 years … and my little Cubs transistor radio—that was a nice give-away—and a motel-size bar of Cubs soap, and a bunch of baseball cards, and a bunch of little Cub buttons, various player buttons, some Cub key chains, and those collectible team buttons from Crane Potato Chips circa 1961, the year of the great potato-chip-eatin’, button-collectin’ contest, not to mention the Budweiser $2.00 button I must have got off a vendor, and … hello. The pencil collection.

I had to make a jigsaw puzzle of that.

Then I put the buttons in a beeswax bowl and made a jigsaw puzzle of that, too.

Now that I’m thinking of it, all those Don Mossi baseball cards, they would make a great puzzle. I discovered I have fifteen with only one duplicate, plus the one I keep on my desk, and now I’ve heard there’s a card out there of Mossi getting married on the baseball diamond under a canopy of baseball bats. Just a rumor, but worth looking into. I liked Mossi because of his ears.

When it rains, it pours, and I’ve just started reading “A Treasury of Jewish Folklore: The Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom and Folk Songs of the Jewish People.” It’s a big doorstopper of a book divided into six main parts. Part One is “Jewish Salt,” and a story there called “So What?” brought forth laughter and a vague feeling of recognition. It’s a short tale of a boy and his father, a conversation mostly, as the boy asks his father for an increase in his allowance. “And if you have an increase in your allowance, so what?” the father asks. The boy says he could go to night school—so what? asks the father. Get a better job—so what? Meet a pretty girl—so what? And on and on until the boy says “... then I’d be happy!” And the father says, “So, you’re happy. So what?”

Oh I love October. I love fall, so much. And now it begins. The colors, the beauty, the mushrooms, the leaves, the coolness, the darkness, the candy, the pumpkins, the jack o’ lanterns. The harvest, the apples, the ghosts, the spirits, the baseball and that lovely lack of predictability. The memories, the fires, the frost, the stars at night, the stars in the morning, the first snow. Morning spiderwebs covered in dew. Mushrooms.

Come fall, the forest feels so ancient.