I found my way to a small stream in an attempt to escape the summer sun. I remained there in solitude for several hours, pondering a project that I am working on with my co-editor, Nicholas Ferrell. While I was wading in the ankle-deep water, I discovered something small and quite marvelous. Sitting in the center of the stream was a rotting stick, lodged between two rocks, with a mushroom growing from it.

Victor V. Gurbo's photograph of the little stream mushroom.
The mushroom on the stick in the stream. Photographed and edited for publication by Victor V. Gurbo.

I thought about the number of things that had to happen for me to be confronted by the mushroom. The stream was moving fast enough that most sticks would quickly wash away, especially on that day since it had rained the night before. It was therefore quite unlikely that any stick, much less one hosting a growing mushroom, would be stuck high enough on the stream to not be engulfed by the running water.

Upon closely inspecting the stick, I found that there was a small twig lodged in the base of the mushroom. From what I can surmise, the twig was washed down stream while carrying the mushroom spores. The twig became stuck on the larger branch at just the right angle and height for the mushroom to grow without being washed away. The mushroom managed to grow just long enough and tall enough for me to be able to notice it. The chances of this happening are astronomical, although I suppose that I can argue that it is more amazing I have made it 30-plus years in one piece.

I removed the mushroom from the stream to inspect it and document it for publication in The New Leaf Journal. Once I was satisfied, I found a safer place for the mushroom stick than where I had found it.