Connie J. Jasperson is a poet and author of nine fantasy novels. She is a founding member of the Myrddin Publishing group and is well known for her blog which combines aspects of art history with insights on the craft of writing. Sign up for her blog here: http://www. conniejjasperson.com Today Connie takes on "The Elfin Saddle," a fungus with a wonderfully odd-shaped cap. We can see its distribution and seasonality here:
Edna sat at her table, drinking a cup of coffee, and pretending she wasn’t resting. At ninety-two, moving to a new home had been more work than she’d thought it would be. Somehow, she’d managed it without alerting her daughter, Marjorie.
Her cell phone played the Theme from the Addams Family, the ringtone for her younger sister, Sylvia. She almost didn’t answer, but finally did.
“What sort of doom and gloom lurks on the horizon today?” she asked.
“Marjorie just left here.”
Edna sat up. “You didn’t tell her my address?”
Sylvia sniffled, an unpleasant habit in an eighty-eight year old woman. “I couldn’t since I don’t know it. But she knows you sold her house to a bunch of perverts.”
Edna nearly hung up. “It was my house. The mortgage was paid off twenty years ago. Marjorie never cared about that place at all until she spent herself into bankruptcy. She lost her money, and now she wants to piss away mine.”
Sylvia said, “There is that. But what about the perverts?”
Edna gripped the phone. “Two very nice women and their sons are a family, and they appreciate the garden, two things Marjorie never understood.”
Sylvia’s sniffling turned into a snort. “You’re still convinced your dragonflies were fairies. I think you have creeping dementia. So does your daughter.”
Edna shook her head. The new owners saw exactly what her garden grew and would have paid anything for the privilege of living there. She steered the conversation away from her buyers. “You’d know more about dementia than anyone, seeing as how you’re allowing Marjorie in your front door. You’d best check to make sure your Hummel collection is still packed away under your bed. At least, that’s where Marjorie said you keep them.”
Shocked silence from the other end. Then Sylvia spoke, in slightly strangled tones. “So, what’s this fancy condo of yours like? Where is it?”
“On the bus line, toward the Evergreen State College. One bedroom, nice and quiet, with a small enclosed patio. Lots of hemlocks and firs, and a nice alder for shade. It’s like living in a forest, but without all the work. Rufus likes it here.”
Another snort indicated her sister’s opinion of Edna’s cat. “So, when do I get to see it?”
Edna sighed. Sylvia just wanted a good snoop so she could report back to Marjorie. “The movers just left, and I’ve got plans for the next few days, but maybe next week. I’ll call you.”
She hung up, determined to have a few days of peace before her sister realized she hadn’t given her the address.
She had barely set the phone down when the Dead Man’s March sounded. “Hello, Marjorie.”
Marjorie’s shrill voice could have shredded wallpaper. “What the Hell are you think—”
Edna hung up and turned the phone off. The thing was nothing but a nuisance anyway, and not having it on saved the battery. She bent down to pet Rufus. “Let’s go sit outside, shall we?”
The afternoon was pleasant, with birds flitting from tree to tree. She gazed up, not really seeing the foliage of the giant alder. The garden had been her private Eden. It was such a good thing the garden was in the hands of two ladies who were in love with it.
Their sons seemed like nice little fellows, full of boy-stuff. But if the fairies had trained her to treasure a garden, they could handle charming a couple of four-year-olds.
This new place was nice too, with the special kitty corral she’d had installed before moving Rufus there. The mesh perimeter with the overhang made it so her lazy old cat could enjoy the natural world but not be a danger to the local birds.
It looked like the trees and bushes had been allowed to grow naturally, or at least they’d planted native species. Oregon grape and bracken grew under the firs, and a hazelnut bush thrived down near the tiny brook. It was damp enough for lots of nice mushrooms to grow in odd little places.
There, beside the fir stump, was one she didn’t see often, elfin saddle. Helvella compressa.
See? She didn’t have dementia. She still knew her mushrooms, even the less common ones.
Her old garden had elfin saddles too. And fairies that disguised themselves as dragonflies.
Like that one, sneaking up on Rufus.
The fairy looked up, seeing Edna’s shocked recognition, and winked. He adjusted his little brown tunic, patted the cat, and flew off.
Edna sat back, smiling. She was going to love living here.
Coming soon: It's a Zoo out There by Melissa Carpenter
A mesh overhang to a garden fence can be called a "Kitty Corral." One style is shown here: https://easypetfence.com/collections/cat-fence-kits-kitty-corral-system
And, of course, one can help out South Sound cats by supporting Feline Friends! https://feline-friends.net/support.htm