It all started with a lot of rain and it all ended with a magical story, but we’ll get to that later. The day before the festival, while we were setting up our booth, the weather was sunny and such an ideal fall day. We thought if only the weather could be like that for the festival, but the forecast said otherwise and we prepared for rain. It didn’t start with just a light sprinkle, but was pouring buckets and we got thoroughly drenched. Everyone seemed to head for cover and I did wonder if anyone was going to show up for the festival. But of course they did! It’s the Pacific Northwest, after all, and rain isn’t going to scare everybody off.
We’ve had such a dry year and are in such need of the rain, so forgive me if I sound like I’m complaining about it (I only wanted the downpour to come the day after.) I realize the festival was all about the magic and wonder of mushrooms, and this area is blessed with such an abundance of them precisely because of all the rain we get. At first it felt inconvenient and a bit uncomfortable to get soaked, but that didn’t last for long because with all our wooly layers (and the angora headband my dear friend knit for me) we were plenty warm and running around in the rain began to feel like so much fun. Funny how that happens, isn’t it? Lots of people poured into the festival as the day went on and when I watched a large group of people dancing in the rain to the music, it made my heart smile.
We looked at the scarecrows, we looked at the booths, Bracken enjoyed the activities in the craft booth, and we looked at mushrooms. So many mushrooms. I was in awe at how many mushrooms were on display. I was particularly drawn to the samples of wool dyed with mushrooms, such beautiful colors. I was also interested to see samples of wool dyed with lichen, which I had never thought of as a dye before. (Have you ever heard of a lichenologist? I didn’t know there was such a thing before the festival.) We got to sample some “hot chocolate” made with reishi and chaga, and I thought it was delicious.
Bracken collected oak galls with his friend, while we listened to the music. By far his favorite part of the day was going on a hayride. The horses were so gentle and friendly and let the children pet them. He liked the hayride so much that he wanted to go a second time. When we went later in the day to buy tickets, they were nearly sold out. We were lucky to get two tickets on the last hayride of the day. We were walking around with friends and I realized we needed to get over there soon, so we checked in with Jeff at the booth. He needed us to watch the booth for a moment so he could run to the restroom (Bracken cracked us up when he yelled back at Jeff at we were leaving the booth: “If you need me, don’t let me know, I’ll be on the hayride!” Ha!) and by the time we ran over to the hayride we had just missed it.
Bracken was very disappointed to miss the hayride and it was the last one of the day. He wanted to chase it down and I said we could, even though I knew we wouldn’t catch up with it, but thought we might be able to get a ride on the way back. We were running in the rain, Bracken tripped and fell in the mud, and then we slowed down our pace. I knew the trail it followed since we had ridden earlier. And then we saw the horses and carriage coming towards us. I held up my tickets and asked if there was any way we could ride back with them.
The driver said that, unfortunately, they were completely full and there was no more room. He saw the disappointed look on Bracken’s face and then he said “Well, wait a minute. There is one spot next to me in the front, if you sit on your mom’s lap.” Oh my goodness! He was so excited. It was a dream come true for him, really, to sit right in the front like that. His face was just beaming. After that, he went around asking everyone we saw if they wanted to hear his magical story. So that, my friends, is his magical story. He would have wanted me to share it with you.