Editorial, Issue 051

Mushrooms are on my mind as I write this. They’re glowing on the cover of this issue and in a few weeks they’ll be everywhere in my yard. I feel very lucky to live in a place where I get to see such a variety of them, though we do not have any of those amazing spring Morels in the yard, unfortunately.

When I think of mushrooms, I think of cycles as the plants around me begin to decay, the trees already showing hints that they’re preparing to sleep. As the plant matter dies and decomposes, mushrooms are there to make it happen, and thanks to them there is rich soil for the plants and trees to use for their rebirth in the spring.

As we move into Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere, I start to look forward to going inward, embracing the harvest and then the quiet that comes after. I start looking at where mushrooms emerge in my life and my work. Where is the decomposition happening that I can use as fuel and energy for the future? As I get older, do I keep changing and growing? What is possible for my second half?

Recently, My Chemical Romance put out a new song after almost a decade of hiatus. It’s called “The Foundations of Decay” and when I was thinking about what to write for this editorial, the song came to mind. The lyrics have lots of metaphor in them that people are trying to parse out, but for myself it feels reflective of coming into middle age and deciding whether it’s time to lay in the foundations of our own decay and settle into decline or to, as the lyrics say, “get up, coward” and keep going, keep growing, keep changing.

I choose the later, but I also recognize that those foundations of decay should not be rejected out of hand. They are the old versions of myself and that is where I should look for mushrooms that tell me where there is good, rich soil from which to build that new version of myself.

Many of the stories in this issue follow a similar theme. I wrote in our March editorial about how the pandemic has, unsurprisingly, started to produce stories of loss and loneliness. This issue, we found many of our submissions were centered on the aftermath of climate change and how it will effect our future generations, if not ourselves. With our the effect on the environment producing changes that are becoming more obvious by the day, it does not surprise me that our authors are turning to their work to process their thoughts and feelings, and perhaps even imagining a better future when it’s all done.

In the stories within these pages, some hopeful, some more bleak, characters find ways to carry on. They have found ways of surviving, even thriving, in a more literal type of decay. I hope they enrich your day as the soil is enriched by the life that has come before. If you keep your eyes open, you may find there are even a few mushrooms scattered through these lines.