Everything you ever wanted to know about puffballs but were afraid to ask! No, not really. Just a quick hello with a purple-spored puffball in my yard. Also known as Calvatia cyathiformis, this beauty prefers arid and grassy places, appearing where I live late in dry summers. This season, that meant maturing and sporulating just in time for some autumn rain to fill its cup….you can see some fine drops covered with finer spores in one image above, and what is basically a puddle coated with spores in the picture on the right. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen this video of me playing this puffball like a drum (no puffballs were harmed in the making of this video). Yes, I could have eaten this puffball when they first appeared, but I’m usually more interested in observing and interacting with (rather than consuming) the creatures in my neighbourhood. Some species are known as wolf-farts in French, others as bird’s eye makeup in Arabic; ‘puffball’, while descriptive, sort of pales in comparison. Have a look around, you might find some of these unobstrusive beings tucked into a grassy verge near you.
The day fills drop by drop, a pool, accumulating moments, no two alike. An excavator rumbling next door, a little yellow plastic flag crackling in a blast of wind. A monarch butterfly coasts like a kite, pausing to sip nectar from a purple pouch of vetch. I draw limp, clammy laundry from the washing machine, slinging the pieces over my shoulder, hang them outside to dry. The sun’s heat grasps my forearms through the light fabric of my shirt. I mouth a warm, crisp bite of toast. Shadows scamper across my wooden desk. A squeaky tractor bumps down the pot-holed road. A tiny red-belly snake tenses, coiled around itself under an empty tray in the shade of the house. The chair ticks and groans as I shift my weight. The little pot rings like a bell as the water boils; an egg lowered on a spoon dampens the sound.
The day’s fractal surfaces are books, bodies, matrices of snow and leaf, water in its shape-shift from ground, breath, river, tide, and leaf-exhalations to sky; its drift and drizzle from cloud to earth. The day’s fractal surface unfolds, reveals itself: shattering, dappling, mirror-ball mosaic of light racing towards us, a wave of radiance. The day’s … Read more
I’m feeling like I imagine this slug to be feeling: a little bit, do I have to climb over another leaf? A leaf bigger than me? And a little bit, what’s over there? I’m thinking earthy thoughts, and searching for something to eat and somewhere moist and dark to hang out. Today my friend and … Read more
Here are two views of a recent quilted, embroidered project. It feels like too long since I finished this piece and I’m not really working on anything new. I’m busy with some writing, and with getting the garden planted before too much more time passes. I feel unmoored when I don’t have a project to … Read more
Bracken, Hayscented fern, Christmas fern, Sword fern, New York Fern, Maidenhair fern, Wood ferns, Oak fern, Interrupted fern, Royal fern, Ostrich fern, Cinnamon fern, Sensitive fern, Virginia Chain fern, Lady fern, Polypody, Rattlesnake fern, Moonwort…I love them all, and there are more yet to learn. I tend to combine brushing up on ferns each season … Read more
I’m spending a lot of time with my face very close to moist ground. That’s where the mosses and liverworts live. I’m trying not to let the thought of ticks stop me, and while I often end up with wet clothes from getting so close, leaning on wet logs and kneeling in mud, it’s worth … Read more
A couple of weeks ago, I took a poem down to the spring and lay it on the surface of the water. The water quickly soaked the paper, and as the poem grew heavier, the water’s movement pushed it below the surface. The words remained legible, although the shadows created by the water’s movement distorted … Read more
Last summer, I had the pleasure of spending several days on West Ironbound Island with artists Erin Donovan and Susanne Chui, on a pilot residency project created by the Kingsburg Coastal Conservancy. Our time was spent getting to know one another amid the island’s sounds, places, stories, and its more-than-human inhabitants. Although our time on … Read more
This year, I’m side-stepping commitments, at least in my art practice. I won’t hold myself to making something every day or every week, but I will make things if the mood takes me. I’m moving slowly…tidying, thinking, stitching. I have permission to stay the course or change direction as often as I chose, chase hare-brained … Read more