One Man's Madness / Part 10
My abiding relationship with “magic mushrooms” goes back a long way. I first discovered them whilst living in those 2.5 acres of Essex.
The charming indigenousness of these tiny plants.... They actually grow straight out of the english ground.
Some say it is the land itself which speaks to the users. Some say that the mushrooms aren’t so much food to the human body as passengers within it; that they co-exist with their large, mammalian host in a symbiotic relationship which brings mobility to one and questionably enhanced insight and awareness to the other.
One often hears that carrots are good for night vision. Well, mushrooms are good for “distorted” vision. They extend the frequency range of our sensory perceptors.
We all know that sound and light is recognisable to humans only between a specific range of mega hertz; that we see only a specific range of colours, and that above or below certain pitches, we can’t pick up sounds. This means we can only bear witness to a specific range of events. There are things happening all around us of which we can have no knowledge. So as we walk through our limited visual/audio spectrum of possibility, who knows what else might be going on right next to us?
Mushrooms extend that spectrum - even if only slightly, and slightly periodically and slightly unpredictably.
Normally I prefer to do mushrooms on my own, hidden away from prying eyes and minds. For one thing, I often end up weeping. It’s not really a sadness weep. It’s more like a recognition weep, and it’s often just a breath away from deep belly laughter. These overt signals of high emotion are often miss-interpreted by onlookers, and even by fellow mushroom takers. But more importantly, the solitude allows me to concentrate on the things I wish to concentrate upon - the reasons why I am taking the mushrooms in the first place. I like this concentration, and I like to take notes as this concentration takes me places.
On the occasion of one of my last involvements with the mushrooms in my field, I can remember having climbed fairly high up into a tree. For some reason, this was fairly standard procedure for my own personal trysts with mushrooms. They affect different people in different ways. The effect on me was, inevitably, to have me end up in a tree, complete with note pad and pen.
On this occasion, I was up there comfortably settled on a main branch, watching the sun on the shimmering crystal leaves and feeling the gentle motion of the tree in the non-existent breeze, when a little party of my fellow meadow residents set out across an area of my field of vision.
They were walking from my right to my left, from a stand of trees across an open space to the gate which led out on to the road. The Dad was in front, followed by their little boy and Mum. Mum was also holding her young daughter Lucy by the hand. A mere toddler, she was dragging behind slightly and Mum was having to pull her along a bit. Except for Lucy, they were all conversing intently.
Lucy was obviously reluctant and, having not as yet developed language skills, somewhat isolated from the others. They were about 30 yards away, completely oblivious of me in my tree. I was absorbing the beauty and integrity of their passage when suddenly - Lucy saw me.
I had a moment of dread. I hate trying to explain myself in these situations. Lucy dragged on her Mum’s hand a bit harder, staring fixedly up into my tree. But she couldn’t raise the alarm eloquently enough. Mum thought she was just dawdling and, intent on the conversation, simply pulled Lucy along more determinedly.
Lucy and I were staring at each other, wide-eyed. But then my alarm abated and I began to smile. Lucy looked more aghast. I started to laugh silently, creating a mild rustle in the leaves. The party was nearly at the gate and Lucy was still staring, aghast. By now tears were pouring down my face (they’re always only a thought away). They dragged poor Lucy through the gate, not for a moment noticing that she was totally preoccupied with something else altogether.
They disappeared out on to the road. I was relieved but felt much warmed by their performance. I would have loved an instant replay.
Sometime later, god knows how long, to my horror, I heard them coming back. This time they would be walking into the field and would be facing slightly towards me. I was certain I would be spotted.
Sure enough, the gate opened and they all tumbled in again. They commenced the journey in reverse, but were still very intently involved in their discussion and completely, thank god, unaware of me. Lucy was on the far side of her Mum as they moved from left to right. I hadn’t caught her eye as yet because Mum was between us.
But then I suddenly realised that this little toddler was studiously maintaining the status quo. She was keeping her mother’s body between herself and the man in the tree in order to avoid visual contact. I began silently to laugh and cry again.
Sure enough, halfway across, her little head peeked around the back of her Mum’s bum to see if there was still a man laughing in the tree. I waved minutely, through the tears. Her head ducked back. Just as the little procession was about to disappear, intently conversing, back into the stand of trees on the right, she tried again. Just the merest peep from behind her oblivious mother.
I blew her the most heartfelt, embracing, non-threatening, overwhelmingly loving kiss I could possibly manage. She disappeared again, aghast again, behind her mother and into the trees.
- One Man's Madness / Part 11
The continuing story of one man’s 60 year love affair with 2.5 acres of Essex countryside.
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