First and foremost, I would like to thank our guest lecturers for preparing such an amazing presentation and for inspiring us to become mushroom hunters through their storytelling soundwalk. However, I don’t know if I would like to call myself a mushroom ‘hunter’; instead, I would prefer the term mushroom ‘explorer’. The essay by Ursula K.
Over the weekend I was on Catalina island, fixing bikes in my bike shop at Emerald Bay. I planned to keep an eye out for fungi - particularly along this one trail where I remember they're usually being little stalks here and there.
One afternoon I took a break from my work and headed over to hike up this hill and look around, but where I remember there always being fungal blooms there were none - though there were funnel spider webs which I never remembered seeing.
To round out my senior year experience, it felt fitting to try and weave a story throughout UCLA campus.
The first thing I planned on doing, after having opened the recorded dialogue of course, was stamp my feet in my backyard, and inhale the spring breeze. I wanted to absorb the information my surrounding provided me, and react to its stimuli. It was a sunny afternoon, the birds were unironically chirping, and I could feel the sun on my face. After having absorbed the vastness that is my background, I decided to explore the unknown, and ventured off. My background is quite sizable, and I often neglect both flora and fauna that inhabit it.
My journey started looking for fungi as I was navigating the beautiful hills of Hill Country Texas. I soon came to realize recently we have been having nights that dropped below 70ºC, which around such temperatures the mushroom spores go into hibernation mode and don't grow. As I was listening to the "Sound Walk Audio", this flowered captured my gaze and interest.
I went on my walk with my friend who is visiting me from Seattle. We listened to the recording and took pictures of the things we noticed. We tried to pay close attention to the items that reminded us of Fungi. When the recording started to play I found it annoying. There was a buzzing sound in the background and I did not like how it was telling me what to do. It just kept repeating “walk just walk” like it was trying to hypnotize me.
Over the weekend, I decided to go on a walk to a nearby hill and explore wild mushrooms. Unfortunately, the weather was dry and sunny, which is unsuitable for fungi to thrive. Therefore I decided to go to the supermarket for the mushroom hunt while listening to the “Sound Walk Audio.”
As I was listening to Kaitlin and Saša talk about the mycelium network during the meditation, I was reminded of the giant Banyan Grove tree that connects all beings in the Swamp episode of the Avatar: the Last Airbender cartoon series. As it turns out, there is actually a real life Banyan tree that’s considered sacred in several South-East Asian cultures, housing spirits and gods according to mythologies and folklore tales (Lopez). I reflected on how art imitates life and vice versa, and started my fungi hunting exploration with this thought in mind.
I didn’t really expect much when I set out to find mushrooms. I live in Bakersfield, CA, and the climate here is extremely dry. We rarely get any rain, and when we do, it doesn’t last for more than an hour. Furthermore, my neighborhood is very developed, so there are no parks and very little nature. Everyone’s yards are constantly watered and maintained by gardeners, and the only pond that we have is artificial. I figured that even in the best-case scenario, I would only be able to find some nice flowers or interesting weeds.
For this assignment, I was not sure where to go to find mushrooms, as I had never gone mushroom hunting before. I decided that going to a park with lots of trees would be a good place to potentially find fungi. Over the weekend, I visited Griffith Park on Crystal Springs Dr in LA.
I went with a friend to help me because I was not too familiar on how to identify fungi in nature.
While doing the soundwalk portion of the assignment, I was a bit at a loss of what to do or look for. I was a bit worried, because I wanted to tie my discussion back to the main topic of fungi, but I am afraid that it was a bit too dry to look for mushrooms, and indeed as I explored my backyard, there were no mushrooms or fruiting bodies to be found. I pondered to myself on what I could even bring to the table in terms of discussion. Then I began to "zoom out" to the bigger picture: an interconnected web of ideas strung together.
I have to admit that before our lecture last week, I was skeptical of the idea of mycomythology. I don’t like eating mushrooms and I was one of those people who believed most wild mushrooms were poisonous. But the meditation actually challenged me to think about nature in a different way. After reading up on mycelium networks and fungi, I became aware of how everything around me, even the soil, is alive. Fungi live everywhere – in the air, in the soil, in rocks – and they play a role in food, medicine, ecology, and much more.
Story Object 1: Soil
Good evening everyone,
My mushroom hunting journey started when I left my apartment. I am new to the area and did not even walk around my apartment complex yet. So, first, I just walked around and looked at buildings and little nature incorporated into the complex: