2021: year of the mushroom

Our seasons aren’t quite what they used to be, here in New England. June of 2021 was the wettest on record in my region, and quite cool. We had a couple of stretches of days in the 90s in May.

I’m never sure when summer ends and fall begins, now. With weather consistently in the 70s, even in October and no sign of a true frost, it feels like it still hasn’t quite arrived. Only the fall foliage seems reliable this year, if a little late.

I like predictability. I like seasons. They’ve always come and gone despite current events and personal transitions. Each one was a little different from the one we’d had the previous year, but only just so much. Now it feels a little chaotic—when should I plant the tomatoes? When will a frost kill the ragweed? Will there be snow to play in, or only ice and slush? Or 3 feet of snow?

I try to remember that here, at least, our homes and forests aren’t burning. Flooding has been minimal. True droughts have been rare. The Northeast is one of the fastest-warming parts of the US, but for now, in the very, very short-term, we’ve been spared the worst. As a white, relatively wealthy woman, I’m also insulated against the challenges that other people might already be facing. No air conditioning during hot, humid weather. Mold issues and poor building management. The risks of working outdoors or in poor conditions.

So, for now, I try to help in what tiny ways I can to mitigate the effects of the global warming that’s already taking place, and try to stave off the worst scenarios. I also watch the changes with fascination. A little horror, a little detachment, and a lot of curiosity at what a changing climate looks like.

In the Northeast, it looks like mushrooms.

So many mushrooms.

Mushrooms I’ve never seen before, mushrooms I don’t know the name of. Mushrooms I don’t need to look for, because they’re all over the neighborhood.

Are they our mushroom saviors? Fungal harbingers of doom? Ecological opportunists? A metaphor for the importance of interconnectedness and interdependence? Who knows. For now, enjoy some mushroom glamour shots with me and let’s hear it for 2021: the Year of the Mushroom.

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