Letter to

Miriam C. Rice,
January 13, 1918 - August 30, 2010

Miriam making "Myco-Stix" in her studio
(photo by Dorothy M. Beebee)

A Letter to Miriam from Dorothy on the way from Norway to the 14th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium in Sweden

Dear Miriam,

Your spirit took flight and joined me on August 30 at my first visit to the Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo, Norway, one of your “favorite of all places” (…on our last visit together a few days before I left, I had promised to carry you in spirit with me on this journey to see Norway, and then on to the 14th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium in Sweden in September.)

A few days later, our journey to the Symposium really began at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, when a lively group of mushroom-dyed clad folks started tromping down the gangplanks from all over the globe, all converging in laughter and tears as we re-met for the first time since 2008 at our 13th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium in Mendocino, when we happily celebrated your 90th birthday.

Our two intrepid Swedish “chauffeurs”, Symposium organizers Monica and Ulla, loaded 14 of us into 2 mini-buses to start the lovely trip north to Gysinge, through the endless wheat-golden plains dotted with great round rolls of harvested hay, then up to Uppsala visiting the home of the great renowned Swedish naturalist, Carl Linnaeus, and touring his gardens, even spotting the “twinflower”, (forgiving him for delegating the fungi to the lower depths of his plant classification system!)

Then, on briefly to the great silent burial mounds of Gamlan Uppsala, we looked out over and said farewell to the endless golden plains of southern Sweden

Now, up into the endless woods, (natural and in “plantations” – Sweden insists that for every tree harvested, a new one must be planted) ever northward, the rolling plains giving away to piney woods laced with fir and birch, a few leaves shimmering gold, an undercover of blueberries and thick lichens promising perfect fungal delights… We even spotted some fungi as we rolled swiftly north, but the drivers could not be bribed to stop, even with chocolate!

Finally, after 2 delightful days of this well-fed sightseeing journey, we arrived at the site of our 5 day 14th International Fungi & Fibre Symposium - the beautiful old PRO Folk School/Conference Center, next to the Dalälven River in the little town of Gysinge , only 30 km inland from Gävle and Biludden, at the Baltic Sea… where 30 years ago I spotted my first Dermocybe sanguinea , and a mama moose!

We were amazed and so delighted to embrace this grand gathering of fungi /fibre artists from all over the world ~ 17 different countries were represented this year: England, Scotland, Australia, Estonia, Spain, Austria, Germany, France, Canada, USA, Netherlands, Finland, India, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland.

Our Symposium workshops were held in the lovely old 1800's buildings of the PRO Center, and we enjoyed Carla's aromatic dye baths steaming in the old wood-fired “Pannmurr” (old Swedish “washing machines”) next to the river, with yarns dyed every hue hanging from the wooden “fish-skeleton”, and silk scarves drying in the wind from the trees ~ Dermocybe semi-sanguineus without end...

And true BLUES from the recently re-identified Sarcodon squamosus – (as opposed to S. imbricatus with which we have been confusing it for years) , teal blue-green hues from the fragrant Hydnellum suaveolans and lovely S. caeruleum , plus an unique mossy green dye from Hydnellum geogenium , a new one to me… a whole range of new color possibilities to be found in the of the piney forests in the northern latitudes.

Miriam, you were pleased that alum was the only mordant of choice this year! One note – all mushrooms that were used were dried , collected over the last 2 years, rather than fresh. All measurements of yarn and fungi were in grams and kilograms with strict proportions – a little different than my “fresh-is-best and more-is-better” California style! But quite predictably successful for dyeing skeins for 100 folks!! Thank you for sweeping the clouds away for our week of perfect weather and finally letting the gentle rain fall the day we all left, encouraging all of those Dermocybe sanguineas hiding undercover of the spruce and blueberries, that it was finally safe to come out!

Thank you once again, dear Miriam, for bringing me along on this incomparably colorful journey with you over the last 40 years, and for all of your warmth and generous, enthusiastic encouragement to me in this field of colorful dreams.

Love, Dorothy


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