On The Verge

by Maria Theresa Maggi on October 4, 2018

"September Low Tide with Single Figure," by Maria Theresa Maggi

“September Low Tide with Single Figure,” chalk pastel by Maria Theresa Maggi

As I begin to write this, there are things I should be doing. The dogs are waiting for their food. The food I bought for the little art reception for the neighborhood art show I’m in tomorrow evening is sitting in the fridge waiting to be transformed into tofu cream cheese and 3 ingredient oatmeal cookies. But I have this big lump in my throat, as if I’m about to weep, but yet, I don’t. I think it’s coming. But before it does, I want to say this:

It seems we live in a terribly dark time for human rights, racial justice, and equality for women. A terribly dark time. So many have been literally brainwashed not to see facts and writing on the wall that we are about to have a Justice on the Supreme Court who cannot conduct himself ethically or impartially, and who may be guilty of perjury and sexual assault, that, astonishingly, is being blamed on others, so his white privilege and entitlement can remain intact. With all this going on, my little neighborhood art show seems trivial indeed, the epitome of my white privilege. A friend today even said, “just stay in your little bubble.”

But I can’t. I’m out now. And yet, and yet, I still listen to what the universe has to offer me every day, hoping that expands my bubble’s boundaries, rather than limiting them. What The Universe Has To Offer Me is often not what I thought was going to be on my plate, or what I think should be on my plate. Nevertheless I trust it is always something I most certainly must need. So the last couple of days I have been trying to turn my attention to what the day is showing me outside of the computer screen and the news that flames out from it.

This morning after I made my last ditch effort in writing to the senators I think stand a chance of growing a moral conscience before they vote, it was time to get ready to go for a walk. As the dogs and I turned the corner into the road at the bottom of our driveway, I looked down at the edge of my property to see, not one, but four huge bolete mushrooms. Right there. I was astonished. One was pretty far gone already and I popped it into a bag to take with us so I could stop by my mushroom identifying friend here and make sure. I was right.

As it turns out, they are mostly all pretty far gone, but I may be able to save some pieces after I leave them alone on a sheet of newspaper outside while any remaining little bugs exit. I’ll know once I scoop the gills out.

I felt something most, most welcome–a happy and very particular kind of connection to my very earth, right on my own property.  Since I moved in here, I have been trying to make friends with it. At first I found that the trees were “terrified,” meaning I think they wondered if I would continue cutting them all down, especially the alders out front that drop leaves all over the place. Once they trusted me, I even got some “help” during morning yoga while looking out on them. And it turns out those legions of leaves, despite some raking up of what seems like tons of them, provided excellent leaf mulch this spring when I began a series of mini compost pots. And from them and the dirt under them, I accidentally discovered worms in the then damp culvert. These worms have made my mini composts pots a roaring success, and I look forward to a rainy season that will bring me more.

Sometimes when the pots are full and working their magic, and I have more kitchen produce to compost, I dig a hole beyond my driveway in a grove of pines that line the circular corner of my property where one street becomes another. In choosing this place to dig I discovered that it is not as solid as it looks. So my “making earth” here seems to be a good way to help anchor those old trees, even though I’ve been told they look stable.

Early this Spring I found my new project of “making earth” incredibly, well, grounding, and hopeful, during tough, tough times. I have thought it wasn’t working, that I didn’t have enough worms, that it’s too dry and on and on. But I kept on anyway. Buoyed by the gift of an immense bag of Starbuck’s coffee grounds one of my friends here bought me, I am definitely in the swing of transforming my kitchen scraps into earth without having to turn a huge compost pile and fend off the critters who would want to lay claim to it.

So when I turned left along the culvert and saw those bolete mushrooms, it was, despite the fact that I’m probably not going to be able to eat but a few bites of them, if that, a dream come true. Ever since I started my rudimentary exploration of gathering mushrooms back in Moscow, I’ve always wished to find some on my own property. The energy I call “The Mushroom People,” was present in abundance this morning, and I felt that strange connection to other life for which I have no words. In a way, it felt like a thank you for my preposterous ambitions to make a little earth as a means of healing in the midst of a time when nature is under assault every day from those who see only monetary profit or loss.

Later I would meet another neighbor walking who asked me what I’d had in the bag. It turns out she went to the mushroom festival in our region and knew what I was talking about. She seemed to bless my interest and promised to bring me recipes.

You might wonder what my crazy making earth project and getting white privilege GOP Senators to care about those who aren’t like them could possibly have in common. To tell you the truth I don’t know. But I believe that good healing connections anywhere increase the chance of it everywhere. It’s the law of metaphor I live by: that equivalence exists between two things seemingly unlike each other. And today those mushrooms were trying to get me to see the good, the miraculous, the unlikely, and therefore most welcome surprise right in front of me.

The ocean was very high and so we had to be very careful on sand sloping down to the rip rap, because the waves were still sending long tentacles out that reached over the crest of the sand here and there, gravity at their backs.  But the waves were spectacular in the sun, shot through with light that created stunning rainbows. We met friend and neighbor on the street and the beach, and all said, “we’re coming to your opening tomorrow,” or some other sincere words of encouragement.

By the time I got home, I was about to cry, and I still am. Because so many people were kind to me, because the earth was kind to me, because there’s always hope even when it seems like there isn’t. Despite my undeniable enmeshment in a system of white privilege that is hurting so many of us, I, too, am loved. I, too, must take heart and not give up. I must pay attention to the gifts I am given and honor them. Those will help me continue to find courage to fight for all life, for all of us. And when the tears come, they will be welcome. I am imperfect. But I am loved, too. I am seen. And heard, even if not by those in political power. I am heard more places than I often count, which reminds me to reconsider where genuine power resides. And so I will go on, helping in any likely and unlikely way I can, little by little, to make it so for all of us.

Maria (moonwatcher)




Leave a Comment

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nasreen kabir October 5, 2018 at 8:01 am

I feel for you I come from another country a poor one in Asia belong to a religion vilified by many but feel shocked at what is going on do not want to write more just feel sympathy for you


2 Maria Theresa Maggi October 5, 2018 at 9:42 am

Thank you Nasreen– I so appreciate your kindness–I am honored by it. Sending you and yours continued courage and strength of heart and safety through this storm. Much love.


3 Marcia October 5, 2018 at 11:09 am

I sit here in tears which began earlier this morning & evidently ready to stop. You are such a brave and powerful woman and I truly admire you. Each of your messages touch something inside me that needs attention and I am so thankful. Your stories are full of words that make each of us think; that’s another gift. The fact that each and every one of them comes straight from the heart is another gift. We sing your praises because we genuinely mean it. Thank you Maria, for being you and caring enough about all of us to make us think and appreciate things that we might have seen as a reason to feel depressed or worse. Instead, we feel that someone cares and shares their love without expecting anything in return. Thank you for your messages.

I have changed my email address and put it in the place (above) where the old one was. In case it doesn’t work, please change it from:
testarosa@embarqmail.com to dogsmom49@gmail.com Thank you.


4 Maria Theresa Maggi October 5, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Bless you, Marcia, now I’m the one tearing up! I am so honored by this comment. Beautiful support I receive like this helps affirm that I should keep trusting to write from that place you describe so beautifully here. You have given ME a gift in this comment. Thank you ever so much!


5 Marge Evans October 5, 2018 at 12:44 pm

because you wrote of mushrooms I thought you might enjoy this article from the Seattle Times. https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/science/how-the-mushroom-dream-of-a-long-haired-hippie-could-help-save-the-worlds-bees/


6 Maria Theresa Maggi October 5, 2018 at 1:55 pm

Paul Stamets! He’s one of my heroes! Thanks Marge! Look forward to reading the whole article. 🙂


7 Olwyn October 14, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Thank you for your passion and compassion – for your respect for and care off the earth we are sprung from….I too am filled with delight when the forest floor around me sprouts mushroom gifts of any kind along with mosses … I am watching what was once a green lawn slowly return to forest floor… so thankful it can regenerate itself after years of chemical assault….


8 Maria Theresa Maggi October 14, 2018 at 9:00 pm

You are weldome, OLwyn– I so appreciate your supportive kindred spirit comment!


9 Gena October 16, 2018 at 3:42 pm

So beautiful as always, Maria, and so moving to bear witness to words you wrote in a moment of strong, moving feeling. I’m grateful that you had the grace and courage to create this blog post even from the cusp of tears, because it’s as grounding for me (and other readers, no doubt) as it seems to be for you.

Yes, those mushrooms were a reminder that life, nourishment, and blessings are always all around us, even when it’s very, very hard. And it occurred to me that they were nourishment for you, too, which might give you the strength to keep writing, advocating, sharing your voice and your stories. We all need them. And the world needs them.

So much love, friend.



10 Maria Theresa Maggi October 18, 2018 at 9:00 am

Dear Gena, thank you from the bottom of my heart for this beautiful response. It means a lot to me that you found this post grounding. On the mushroom people front, I was “gifted” with a huge bolete yesterday morning, all ready to come up, relatively unscathed by little critters, and now beautifully dried in pieces in my food dryer, to make a delicious powder to add to winter dishes. I am, indeed, blessed by them, and so much more. The world needs us all. love back to you always–


Previous post:

Next post: