Here's the source of my preoccupation with mushrooms:
As a teenager, I had a potted plant in my bedroom, an umbrella tree that had been given to me as a gift. It grew so fast and was so vital in its way that it seemed more like a pet than a plant. It popped a new branch of leaves monthly, turned to follow the sunlight as it moved across the room. I polished it. I talked to it. I re-potted it. It grew from knee high to shoulder height in two years. I took this personally. I loved this thing.
But vacation time came, a two week long trip this time. I had found a water-stained paperback book from the 70's, Living with Houseplants, the cover featuring a semi-hippie couple in bell bottoms surrounded by spider plants suspended in macrame. In it the nice semi-hippie couple wrote that the best way to insure that my umbrella plant lived through my trip would be to wrap it up in plastic, water it profusely, and let the greenhouse effect do its work. So I did.
And when I came back, my umbrella plant was extremely alive. But not just the plant. Inside the pot, outside the pot, were over a hundred little mushrooms. White caps, long stems, sprouting from the wet dark potting soil, gazing up at me, all leaning slightly like a crowd at a concert. My first instinct was the recoil, the ewww, the revulsion that accompanies any kind of excess. But after that, fascination took over. The idea of this. That these mushrooms had been there all along, sharing my room for over three years, concealed, dormant, patient. Waiting for the odd chance that conditions would change and their time would come. Their time would come and they would have their chance to bust out in all their tiny white glory, to, simply, mushroom.
They wind up, in paper version, in my work all the time. Quite often I concentrate on them when the real experience of my embroidered objects is beneath them, or behind them, but I won't let them go. The idea of something underneath, undiscovered, of something lurking, waiting, choosing its time to surface is a very important metaphor for me. It has parallels in the way our minds work, our bodies function, our environment behaves. And mushrooms and fungus, well, they're beautiful.
And wonderfully strange.
I found all of these at the Orchid Society, in the dark places along the walking paths.
Settling into the hollow trunks of chopped down palms,
Living among us.