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!

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!


Ginger’s Rescue

Jane, here. Alas, the next chapter of Because Of The Red Fox is still in the workshop! I hope to have it posted by the latter half of next week, if not sooner. In the meantime ….

Once again, characters from Because Of The Red Fox speak …

Annie: Annie, here. You wouldn’t believe what’s been happening at our house these days. Well, actually, it’s our friend Djuna’s house. But where she lives reminds me so much of our home and the land around it, and the Hundred Acre Wood Farm Community — like it’s the inspiration or something — but it’s different too and has its own life and destiny and everything —

Santa: Annie, stop talking in circles! You’re not making any sense!

Shell: What Annie means is, is that at Homestead School and home, which is on an island that is very much like Yonder Island, and at a place on the island that is remarkably similar to the Hundred Acre Wood Farm Community, but different too, we’ve had a most amazing encounter.

Annie: See, some folks at Homestead School — which is this really magical, fun, and wise school in the woods —

Santa: — “wise”? You make it sound like it’s alive!

Annie: Everything is alive, Santa. Everything’s got a personality — you ought to know that by now!

Santa: Just because —

Annie (smugly): – all our experiences support that very basic truth!

Shell: The teapots do talk, and dolls do have parties when we aren’t looking.  And sometimes even when we are. Anyway, Annie. You were saying —

Annie (hopping up and down): Right! So, one wet and windy day a Homestead student’s mom found a baby robin just lying on the ground–really, looking half- or mostly dead — its head flopped back in the mud–

Santa: Yeah, and she scooped up the baby robin, and Djuna’s mom Dana, I think, held it against her skin for a really long time — an hour, maybe, to warm it —

Shell: The baby bird must have tried to fly, and had flopped instead, or maybe it had fallen out its nest, or —

Annie: Dana brought the bird back to life — warmed it up, and she and Djuna gathered earthworms, and they’ve been feeding it every half hour — earthworms, earthworms, yum!

Santa: You mean, yuck! Unless you’re a bird!

Annie: Anyway, our friend Djuna has been doing quite a lot of the care for the baby. The baby robin is named Ginger, and she’s soooo — (Annie gives a rapturous sigh)

Shell: Well, it’s pretty magical. Completely different from our experience with chickens who can almost talk. I mean, we’re talking about a wild bird here, truly wild —

Ginger And Djuna

Santa: –only, now it has bonded with humans. when we visited, Ginger was hanging out on a garden plot while her humans working away there. Then Djuna got Ginger to perch on a tree twig —

Annie: We’re all wondering what will happen when Ginger learns to fly — she did fly just a tiny bit while we were there.

Shell: We heard about someone in the neighborhood who has helped wild birds come back to health. One was a raven, who eventually flew off, but comes back to this person from time to time.

Santa: Ravens are super-intelligent, though. Would Ginger come back? Will she learn how to hunt on her own? Will she survive?

Shell: Well, those are the big questions, right. Remember, how that wild duckling just literally ran into the lap of Jane’s family? They raised that little duck, and the duckling followed them around and everything, but eventually Quackstar (that’s the duck’s name) got more and more wild, and one day he began flapping his wings —

Annie: Yeah, yeah — his wings just sped him around the yard, and then out of the yard —

Santa: — and he never came back. Jane and her family hope that he made it to a neighborhood pond or park and found himself a wife, but who knows what really happened.

Annie: Well, we just can’t know, can we. But wild animals have been coming into people’s lives for just forever. And I think something really magical happens when they do.

Santa: Ah. I knew we’d get here.

Shell: What do you mean?

Santa: Annie’s point of — (Santa makes a flappy, swoony gesture with hands and body) — you know, the moment when Annie gets all … misty-swirly or something.

Shell: What’s wrong with that?

Santa: Well, it’s not really practical, is it?

Shell: Isn’t it?

Annie (ignoring them): When the wild and humans meet in these sweet, just — deliciously ordinary ways, I mean, when they start caring for each other — I think something wakes up in the universe like a jewel or a brand new star! Certainly here on earth we remember again how each living thing has its own special life. And we get the gift of being part of it! That has to send some shiny Instant Message to the planet — to just everything!

Santa: Wow, Annie. Uhhhh —

Shell: What kind of message, Annie?

Annie: Oh, you know, like a Valentine — not the sappy romantic kind — just the delightfully hand-decorated “Love, love, love” kind.

Santa chokes.

Shell (puzzled, amused, touched): Wow, profound, Annie.

Annie: Anyway, Djuna’s mom Dana who is a teacher at the Homestead School said she’s going to have the kids do their Sit Spots with Ginger —

Shell: A Sit Spot is where you have your own secret or private place in a bit of nature, and you just hang out there — the kids at the school have Sit Spot times.

Annie: You and the Sit Spot place and the plants and bugs and whatever is there get to be really good friends. When I’m at my Sit Spot I feel like I’m a pot of Peace Tea, well-infused.

Santa: I get super-fab ideas at my Sit Spot.

Shell: I guess I … find out more about my magic in mine. It kind of talks to me, not in words, though —

Santa (with a bemused, mystified expression): Well, I felt super-still and quiet when Ginger perched on my finger. I didn’t want to go anywhere else or do anything else, just gaze at Ginger.

Annie smiles smugly.

Santa (shoots an outraged glance): That doesn’t mean I support your la-la language, Annie! My response was very practical! I–(splutter)

Shell: Anyway, to Ginger’s good health! Thank you, Djuna, for introducing her to us, and sharing the story!

Ginger Perches