Loneliness feels to me like episodes of freezing weather within. I walk the woods, exercise until I drop, clean my road shoulder, work, rake, go places: last night to a Protestant church's annual pork-sausage supper. I love the food, so I went. I wonder how many people did not attend because they'd have to sit alone. It takes a certain form of courage. I sat next to an old couple, said hello and "Please pass the applesauce," the most wonderful applesauce in Franklin County. I forced myself to stay certain number of minutes so as not to dash away. I forced myself not to cry. There were several reasons to do so. I'll skip them. Wide awake until 2:00 a.m. Woke early.
It's a beautiful October day, so, back to the woods to try again to create peace within. Mostly I don't mind being alone, but not when there are so many wonderful things to share. Often when I walk I ask myself, "What extraordinary thing will I see today?" Foxes? Blue asters? Doe and fawns? "Please show me something wonderful," I asked. "Thanking You in advance for a miracle." I saw nothing through the loneliness draped around me. No one even to tell. Raked my lawn while more leaves fell all around, and appreciated what I could. Normally I do that well. A former prisoner of war once said, in a documentary film, "A good day is one when the lock is on the INSIDE of the door." Still a little cloud. Go away, loneliness! Go away! It's unbecoming! Heartache isn't real!
I raised my teary eyes and saw something strange. Moving closer I saw it was--good God, in my very own yard--at the base of a tree, Hens of the Woods (Grifola frondosa) had grown! The king, the twelve-point buck, of mushrooms! Not only fascinating and beautiful--but edible!
I laughed huge hearty genuine laughter, said "Thank you!", carefully cut four of them from the earth and roasted the fronds of two until they were beautifully crisp, chopped and sauteed the rest for later (I'm still "off my feed," unfortunately) and sold the other two "hens" to a grocery store for $20 (the first time I've ever approached a store and done that) because their season is short and I couldn't eat or preserve them all--and it's to share, because this mushroom, also known as "maitake," is used by major medical centers for its anti-cancer, anti-tumor properties. Go to WebMD or the Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center website to learn more.