Mushrooms Rising

Note from Jane: Shell, Santa (Samantha), and Annie are three cousins who appear in my children’s “magical nature” fantasy novel, Because Of The Red Fox, which I’m delighted to say, will be available on Nov. 8! I’ll step aside now to let the girls have their say, as they tell us what’s new in their lives on Yonder Island.

Shell: Well, Santa, I knew you were excited about all those mushrooms we’ve been seeing in the woods, but ….

Annie: I don’t remember them being so blurry

Santa: They weren’t! I just got a little excited ….

Shell: I’ll say. But let’s allow our Readers to take a look.

Santa's Mushroom Photo
Santa’s Mushroom Photo

Santa: I know what you’re thinking, Shell. And you don’t need to be so critical.

Shell: Not only is it blurry, but it’s sideways.

Santa: That’s artistry! And it would have ended up perfectly if I hadn’t–

Shell: –started jumping up and down. You really can’t expect to get a good photo when you do that.

Annie: But she had reason to be excited. We all did.

Leaves (the Red Fox): As I recall, you all were boinging up and down.

Shell: Well, yes … but you have to admit, Leaves. We had good reason.

Annie: This fall has been amazing! So many kinds of mushrooms are sprouting up everywhere. Ruffly-dress mushrooms, spatter-groit mushrooms, supreme emperor mushrooms, mushroom village mushrooms, rose beauty mushrooms, feathered mushrooms, slimes ….

Shell: Annie, I don’t think those are the real names of the mushrooms we saw on our wander the other day.

Santa (vigorously waving a Field Guide in front of Annie’s face): They absolutely are not! You are so totally making up all those names.

Annie: Of course, and why not? Mushrooms are so mysterious and elegant and weird that they deserve to have us be inspired and make up names for them.

Shell: Well, it’s sure fun to dream up names for all of them, and stories and histories too.

Santa: Anyway, my photo is of some teeny-tiny mushrooms that grew up on a slab of bark.

Shell: You haven’t identified them?

Santa: Hmph! No. But give me time. The point of this post and my boldness in showing you this photo, is that this is a really special year for mushrooms, at least here on Yonder Island, in the Pacific Northwest. We are discovering so many different kinds–

Annie: –and they’re just everywhere, and a bunch of different sizes!

Shell: It’s pretty amazing. I’ve never seen mushrooms and other fungi like that before. Something about the rain and the sun …?

Santa: I don’t know. It’s just a really amazing time … to be a mushroom, I guess.

Shell (raising an eyebrow): Hmmm. Well, Readers, maybe it’s a great time for mushrooms where you live, too. Next time you see a mushroom growing on a lawn or under a tree, look a little further. We’ve been finding them on logs and under logs, on trees, pathways, under shrubs, and up slopes–

Annie: Just everywhere!

Santa: If you see any where you live, please tell us about them! Their color, their shape, what other plants hang out with them …

Shell: What they remind you of — just anything!

Annie: Is this a secret mission?

Santa (snorting): Not very secret, if we’re broadcasting the idea on a blog!

Shell: Secret enough. We look forward to your reports, Readers! Shell, Santa, Annie, and Leaves, signing off for now!

A Field Guide To Our Own Wild Minds

Note from Jane: Most of the time I’ll be posting to the kid in all of us. Occasionally though I post to “grown ups, in service to how we may nourish the magic of our true nature”. The book review is one such post. Enjoy!

I’ve long felt that the works of Bill Plotkin, psychologist, cultural visionary, and wilderness guide, should be recommended reading for parents, teachers, caregivers, and just about every adult who yearns to live a satisfying, exciting, deeply human, and unique life, and to support such an experience for the children in their lives. His previous book, Nature And The Human Soul, Plotkin introduced a model that maps how fully and creatively we can mature when soul and wild nature guide us. In his newest work,
Wild Mind: A Field Guide To The Human Psyche, Plotkin takes us on a journey through our psyche, offering us a richer, deeper understanding of our consciousness and what it might mean for us to nourish our full humanity by cultivating, what he describes as, the four facets of the Self.

As with his previous works, Plotkin is a generous, compassionate guide who ignites our imaginations and coaxes forth our own deep knowings about who we might truly be at the heart of our nature: individuals who have unique roles to play in all of the universe, who have a birthright to an intimate relationship with the natural world around us, and who have a part to play in reweaving the fabric of our culture. In this book he engages us with aspects of our selves, our whole nature aspects, as well as with our wounded, self-protective aspects–our Subpersonalities. With the latter, he is careful to point out that these aspects have had an essential role to play in our pasts, and that this should be honored. We can heal our relationships with our Subpersonalities and reassign their energies. Plotkin, as with his other works, offers practices for connecting with the whole nature facets of the Self, as well as for engaging in the process of healing our relationships with our Subpersonalities.

To engage with this book is to engage in your own inner wilderness. The journey is both wondrous and practical. We explore our own Wild Minds, come to celebrate the beauty of our Self and Soul, and discover ways to nurture and caretake who we are at heart.  And we gaze upon our wounded aspects, and learn how to take them by the hand. At the same time we explore our inner nature, we come to understand how we are threaded with outer nature. This book is very much about this interconnected relationship.

I personally would love to see this work included and personally explored by all in the field of psychology. As Plotkin points out: “Conventional Western psychology has focused on pathology rather than possibility and participation, and this renders it incomplete … and in many ways obsolete.” In this book, Plotkin points out again and again that our human psyches possess a variety of astonishing resources, which we all share by virtue of being human.  Reclaiming these essential human capacities of the Self ought to be the highest priority in many fields, for it is in our vibrant, wholeness that sustainable, life-affirming culture, the well-being of all of us and of the earth  will thrive.

Pick up a copy of this book and uncover the magic of your true nature!


Book Preview & Birthday Celebration!

Red Fox - art by Jane Valencia (c) 2011
Red Fox – art by Jane Valencia (c) 2011

You are invited!

When: Saturday, July 27, 2013

Time: 7-9:30PM

Where: Plain Old Farm (contact us for location)

Cost: None! Just bring yourself, family, friends. We invite you to bring a snack, dessert, or drink to share. See the end of this post for what else you might bring.

If you plan to come, or might come, please RSVP.

About the Event:

Because Of The Red Fox is close to publication!  I’m also about to celebrate a significant birthday (hint: how many stars are on our US flag?). I have vowed to family and friends, and now to all of you, that my manuscript will be complete by this event. All that will  be left to do will be copy-edits and some book production miscellany. The story itself will be done. No more revisions!

So, if you happen to be on an enchanted island in Puget Sound, come join us! The first hour will be devoted to stepping into the world of the Red Fox. I’ll read some from the book and share some tales. We’ll have music and some magical nature fun. We’ll also enjoy yummy food and good company around a lovely fire in the beautiful outdoors amidst some amazing and friendly trees.

My mom, Joyce Kiefer, who is a published poet and writer and with whom I share a birthday (she is turning a significant age as well) will share a couple of poems. We’ll have other surprises, too, as this event is very much a celebration of the magic of life here on the island and of my communities, all of which are woven into my novel in some form or another.

It promises to be a special evening, one that will be even more inspiring if you join us!

Please also bring: a chair or blanket and anything else you might need to be comfortable outside. If you can, please bring your own plates, utensils, & cups. Do you play an instrument? Tell stories? Want to share a song? We’ll have time for stories, music games, and more from all of us.

I hope you can come!