Winding Down

November was not a favorite month for many years, but I have learned to appreciate it more. In the past, I thought of it as rather colorless and simply a time to be traversed to reach December’s cold, snow and Christmas. 

This year somehow I have learned to appreciate this bridge month between autumn and winter. The neighborhood trees have been beautiful and one especially has brightened each of my days. I see it, perfectly framed, through my office windows subtly changing colors day by day. Only over the past 48 hours has it lost its bright glow as seen below, as the leaves have dried and withered, many falling to the ground.


After a several week hiatus, today I returned to one of my favorite places, Pope Lick Park. As I walked listening to the rustle of crisp leaves blowing along the way, I realized that I would miss this month, November. It has been generous with its nature, colors and warm sunshine. It has been much more than I could have anticipated or earned, filled with love and affirmation. 

There were a few birds along the trail today including a noisy flock of crows fussing as I passed. Yes, I know the proper term is “murder” of crows, but they didn’t seem mad enough to warrant using that word! I saw one squirrel who I hoped found the nuts I had strategically placed under some trees. With most of the leaves now carpeting the ground the trees looked stark, especially the sycomores reaching their chalky limbs up to the sky. 


So, in a few days, we say, “Goodbye November.” You have been a good month and I look forward to your return in following years. 




Fairy Ring

Mushrooms Again

The mushroom burial suit discussed in the last post brought out several interesting comments both here on the blog and in person by those who know me personally. To those who no longer enjoy eating mushrooms, I apologize. My intent was never to destroy a good thing and edible mushrooms are definitely good. Let me assure you that today we move on to a mushroom adventure that should not offend.

Have you heard of fairy rings also called fairy circles, pixie or elf rings? I must admit that I am new to this worldwide subject concerning the growth of mushrooms in a circle or an arc shape, but since I’ve researched the subject please allow me to share what I’ve recently learned.

These rings of mushrooms appear most often in the woods, but may also be in open grassy areas. At some point in the life cycle of these formations, the grass may either die or inversely become taller and darker so that a grass ring occurs. Once begun the life cycle can carry on for many years.

Have any of you seen a fairy ring? I had not until a couple of days ago when my daughter shared one that she had spotted while driving to work. It was just off a busy suburban thoroughfare and I wonder how many other people drove by without noticing this phenomenon. My oldest, Dianne, has always been attuned to nature, a knack I believe she learned from her dad. We were both so relieved that it was still present when she drove me to the spot in a grove of pine trees. I admit that we parked on private property and trespassed a bit to reach the circle of mushrooms. It was not perfectly circular nor completely filled in, but it clearly formed a large ring. Here are a few photos that demonstrate what we saw: 

Dianne Mattingly Bynum


Dianne and I walked very carefully to not damage any of the mushrooms in the area. We did step into the circle and I did not know at the time that we could have been in real danger of losing our sight or even dying young according to folklore I later read. Of course I am past the latter, but still one cannot be too careful when dealing with otherworldly presences.

It seems that most European countries have their own legends concerning the rings. France which is thought to have the largest (>2,000 ft,) and oldest (700 yrs.) such ring prefers the term “sorcerer’s rings” which they believe are guarded by a giant toad. In Germany, they are associated with witches and Dutch legends give the devil credit. In Austria, such rings were thought to be the result of flying dragons that blight nearby land.

Whether the myths passed down for generations concern good luck or bad it is fun to think of fairies dancing around or inside the circle on a moonlit night. Whether you picture fairies sitting on mushrooms and using them for tables as in Scotland fullsizeoutput_1051or carrying mushroom parasols to enhance fertility as do the legends of Wales, enjoy the fantasy.

While these phenomena are naturally occurring and we could learn all the agricultural and scientific principles involved, I prefer to stop right here and believe in fairies.


Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!

William Butler Yeats

Infinity Suit


Yesterday I was overcome by the beauty of autumn colors. Red fire bushes, yellow poplar trees and the varying shades of sugar maples made our neighborhood its most attractive. Setting out to walk and take photos of the trees I stumbled upon some unexpected gems of nature. Mushrooms have always mystified me for several reasons. First I like the surprise as they pop out of their dark origins unannounced. Second is the variety of shapes and range of drab colors from white to black. I also like the taste of mushrooms whether raw or cooked, but I have never dared to eat any found in the wild. I recall a family who gathered mushrooms out west somewhere many years ago and one or more of them ended up needing liver transplants, but that’s not a story for today.

When I saw these especially interesting mushrooms yesterday it reminded me of a film I saw a few weeks ago. As part of a several week discussion of death sponsored by The Center for Interfaith Relations, I was at the Main Louisville Library attending screenings of two films concerning end of life decisions. One was entitled “Suiting Dennis” and I had expected it to perhaps be about a family dressing their deceased loved one. I mean, what would you have expected? I could not have been more wrong and since we are now discussing mushrooms, I want to share this intriguing true story with you.

As some of you will recall we discussed death here extensively early this year. One of the posts was entitled “To Bury or Not” and several traditions and options were mentioned.  The “Suiting Dennis” option is one new to me and I’m betting to most of you. I find it fascinating and look forward to both your reactions and your opinions.

Please watch as terminal patient, Dennis Wright and his family, make an unprecedented decision for the disposal of his remains. This film is almost 27 minutes long and introduces you to Wright and his family offering glimpses into their lives together before making this some might say radical decision. 


More Information

A trailer for the film is available at and lasts only about one minute if you would prefer a peek before committing more time.

And for those of you who find this subject as captivating as I do, I recommend the following TED talk (7 min) by Jae Rhim Lee:



Out of Darkness

Yesterday when my alarm blared, the morning was cool and extremely foggy. As I lifted my sore body off the warm bed it was impossible to decide which of its parts was more painful. Two days ago I took a hard fall and was lucky to find nothing broken as two nice folks helped me to my feet. Brisk walking two to three miles or more a day has been my main exercise for the past few years. I generally avoid sidewalks, keeping to the nature trails in the nearby Parklands.  I should have stuck to that plan because once again my walk had been rudely interrupted by concrete here in my neighborhood. 

During the past two painful days, I had tried to decide whether I would be able to keep my commitment to participate in the “Out of Darkness” walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention* (AFSP).  I was pre-registered and looking forward to walking with the group I had recently joined, so I decided to give it a try and I am so glad that I did, even though I did not quite make the entire course. 


Almost 600 people were gathered at the Waterfront Park here in Louisville to raise funds for suicide prevention and to promote education about suicide awareness. Tens of thousands more walked across this country. It was humbling to be in the company of so people who had been touched by suicide. We walked in remembrance. We walked in unity with survivors. We walked simply to give support, both emotional and financial.




Walking is good exercise, even for the clumsy, but walking in collaboration with others for an important cause was worth the extra effort it took yesterday. 

Earlier this year I wrote several blog posts on the subject of death and on March 1, specifically about suicide. It is a tough subject to discuss and I will always be grateful for the person who allowed me to post the eulogy that she gave for her mother who died in December of 2014 as the result of suicide. I hope that you will read or re-read that post, because the words written by Laurie Lamb Ray more clearly express the need for suicide awareness than I ever could. Her heartbreakingly candid account of her Mom’s depression provides a window on this subject we scarcely encounter. Yesterday I walked for Laurie’s Mom, Marilyn, and for my cousin David, both of whom I sincerely miss.


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