The Mushroom That Wouldn’t Dance

It’s a little known fact that creatures living in the Black Forest gather to dance. Everyone comes along – bouncing rabbits, shy foxes, majestic eagles, century-old oak trees, colorful caterpillars and more. The dance takes place deep in the night, only when stars are hovering above the chilly autumn sky. Maybe it’s a way to shake off the stresses of forest life.  Maybe it’s to celebrate nature’s bounty. Maybe it’s just to keep warm. No one really knows.

The initial impulse is mysterious. It starts quietly. A soft breeze, followed by the gentle rustling of the leaves in the trees. Then a low, deep chorus of frogs. The deer arrive, stomping their hooves in unison to set the beat. Howling wolves and chirping birds join in song. Fireflies glow their brightest, adding to the million stars lighting up the forest. The sounds weave together, like colors added to a painting with each brushstroke. Every living creature resonates to the music with a dance of its own. Owls bob their heads. Trees slowly wave their branches – raining down their leaves on the moist forest soil. Rabbits shake their furry little bottoms.

With the dance in full swing, the mushrooms watched the spectacle unfold. Everyone knew that mushrooms couldn’t dance. It’s not that they didn’t want to, because autumn is the happiest time of the year for them. They enjoy the humidity. And with trees shedding their leaves, there’s an abundance of food. Although the mushrooms felt the music through their soft bodies, they simply couldn’t dance. So they looked on in envy, and in sadness. The other creatures barely noticed them, and the mushrooms feared being stepped on.

In a bed of red and golden leaves, Bobby the mushroom watched the majestic eagle fly by, flapping its wings to the beat. It wasn’t Bobby’s first dance. He’d seen a few in his lifetime. He glanced at his friends around him, stiff like statues in a museum. Bobby thought to himself – “I have no arms to wave, like the trees do. My stem is firmly anchored to the ground. I can’t stomp it to the beat. I can’t remove my hat to twirl it around. I have no hands to clap. I don’t even have a mouth to make a single sound”. “Do I even have a soul?”, he asked himself.

All of a sudden, a soft note from a dove’s song sent shivers up Bobby’s spine. It made him reach for the sky, his stem stretching up high. As he came back down, the stem compressed, becoming short and stubby. From the movement came a peculiar sound, only heard by the creatures of the forest. It was similar to a ship’s fog horn. He pumped up and down again, this time stretching to his maximum. The sound was now loud enough for all to hear. The creatures froze and the music suddenly stopped. “Who made that sound?” quizzed the owl, pausing  his dance. Being the wisest of animals, the owl thought he knew every sound in the forest. But this one was different. It was pure and mellow. “Can you please try it again?” asked the owl to Bobby. With the moon shining brightly above him, Bobby felt like he was in the spotlight. Mushrooms are always a bit uncomfortable in bright lights. They grow best in the shade. But he stood his straightest and pumped as best he could. All the creatures cheered him on, and Bobby felt deep pride. He could finally bring something to the dance.

The entire forest went back to the music, with Bobby now joining in. He pumped up and down and side-to-side, timed with the beat. His entire body, including his large hat, waved with the music. The stiffness has disappeared! All around him, the other mushrooms started to follow, pumping up and down. The movement spread like wildfire across the forest floor. The ground came alive with waves of pumping mushrooms, like the surface of a lake on a windy day.

The frenzied dance continued till the break of dawn, when the forest suddenly became still again. One by one, the creatures went home, far into the Black Forest. The frogs to their ponds, the birds to their nests, the wolves to their dens. Bobby stood there silently, on his bed of red and golden leaves. He looked up at the setting moon, bathing in its soft light. His plump little body never felt more alive and more peaceful at the same time. He fell fast asleep, with the dance filling his dreams.



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