John Cage supported his early years composing music by hunting, gathering and selling mushrooms. He sold them to high end NYC restaurants. Cage even won a mushroom quiz contest in 1958 on Italian television.
What is truly fascinating about his passion for mushrooms is that he had a wonderful, sensorial appreciation for them. That sensorial appreciation was not defined exclusively by their shape or their scent, but something unexpected, at least to me when I first read about it. He saw a musical connection to the fungi. Imagine writing music and finding the sounds you notate in the unfurling spirals of fiddle-head buds or the bounce of dew drops on the curvilinear triangles of orchid petals.
Here are three of sites I visited to read about Cage and Mushrooms: Harmony of the Spores , Sounds and Mushrooms and a YouTube video - Mushroom Haiku.
Below is one of John Cage's one-minute compositions about "Music and Mushrooms" -
Music and mushrooms:
two words next to one
another in many dictionaries.
Where did he
write The Three-Penny Opera?
buried below the grass at the
foot of High Tor.
Once the season changes
from summer to fall,
given sufficient rain,
or just the
mysterious dampness that’s in the
carrying on, I
am sure, his
business of working with
have no ears to hear the
music the spores shot off
from basidia make obliges us
to busy ourselves microphonically.
Look around the Montessori classroom and remind yourself that Maria's term for her pedagogical method is "Sensorial Education." Why not have students watch leaves - those close to the ground and others high in the sky - move in the wind and have them sway with them and then note their beat. Compose the wind - compose the response of the leaves. For an excellent read see Geoff Manaugh's recent post "Sound Not As Memory" at his blog, "BLDGBLOG" about Rutger Zuydervelt's project,"Take A Closer Listen."
So after viewing / reading John Cage's words, if you find yourself thinking about making colorful, fungi classification cards for your classroom, I have a great site for you to print out a selection of wonderful images -//www.english-country-garden.com/fungus.htm. I found this great link via Kathy's Montessori Life .
Here is a single preview:
Laetiporus sulphureus or "Chicken of the Woods."
For me, I have decided to bring a variety of mushrooms to The Bridge for next week's poetry/prose writing group held on Thursday afternoons. I will provide an opportunity during group for each of the participating seniors to hold, smell and taste, if they choose, a sampling of the fungi. I will post their poetic responses here afterwords. In the mean time, I think I will make fungi classification cards for their use also.
Here in Juneau, I spent the evening cooking up a plateful of "Chicken of the Woods" mushrooms and I confess that the name rings true. The gal that swapped me the mushrooms for my ceramic, bead necklace when I stopped by the Farmer's Market Festival yesterday told me to cut away the lower segment of the fungi and dispose of it, as it was very woodsy tasting and often caused stomach aches when digested. The upper segment was to be cut into strips and then par boiled. I followed her directions exactly.
Next, she had instructed that I dip the pieces into a little bit of egg and milk mixture before dredging them in panko bread crumbs. Again, I followed each of her steps. I placed the prepared strips in a frying pan that contained heated olive oil. The sizzling feast had my stomach growling before they were even finished.
And when they were finished, I devoured a plateful. Soooo good!