For increased mortality rates, that is. According to a mortality overview report by StatsCan for 2014-2016, the deadliest month in 2016 was December, followed by March, then February, then January (Figure 3, Seasonality of Deaths) – see how they’re all the winter months? It actually starts a bit earlier, in October & November, and stretches all the way till April – the months that had a higher average number of daily deaths than the annual average – but you can see that there’s a peak December through March. And seeing both as we’re headed into these deadly winter months as well as towards the start of our upcoming adult program, Crash Course in Death and Dying, I figure ’tis the season, then, to talk about death.
But it’s a bit of a taboo subject to bring up still, right? Or at least that’s the feeling I get whenever I do want to bring up death in conversation. So how do we start the conversation? Because it’s going to happen at some point in your life (well, if we’re talking about your death, it’s going to happen at a pretty predictable point in your life, actually: the end of it), and there are logistical matters to take into consideration even apart from the sentimental or spiritual aspect of it (e.g. what kind of funeral to hold, if holding one? how to deal with the body?), so it’s probably a good idea to think about it and write up your will & deal with your estate (with The Canadian Guide to Will and Estate Planning, 4th edition, for example) even before you start considering how close you may or may not be to your inevitable end or thinking about how to start talking to your loved ones about your choices.
And what better time to start thinking about wills & power of attorney, or advance care planning, than with the start of our program on death & dying that will cover Wills & Power of Attorney (Wed Oct 16, 7-8:30pm at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library with guest speaker Adam Giancola) and Advance Care Planning (Wed Oct 23, 7-8:30pm at the Bathurst Clark Resource Library with a guest speaker from Hospice Vaughan).
Register for these talks/workshops now on Eventbrite! This has been changed into a drop-in program, so please come drop into the program!
But beyond that, I’d like to mention a few death-related materials to help you become more comfortable thinking and talking about death and dying, as well as to make it easier to initiate the topic of discussion with someone who might be otherwise disinclined to talk about it (which is not to say to force them to talk about it). This post is going to be focused more on how we can be more open in discussions about death and be more prepared for our own inevitable demise.
Lithub has published their previews for their most anticipated titles for the Fall of 2019 (Adult non-fiction), and so I figured I’d highlight a few of these and offer up some similar titles while we wait for them to be added to our catalogue. All of these titles are on order, so put yourself on hold for them now! Here are a few that caught my eye from all their different lists ranging from Science, Technology, History, Biography, Social Science, Politics, Essay Collections, and Memoir (everything on the Science list sounds A+, especially The Hidden World of the Fox, release date Oct 22):
White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation by Lauren Michele Jackson (Beacon Press, Nov 12). My anticipation for this title should come as no surprise if you’ve read any of my previous posts before, but I’m also incredibly interested in this upcoming title because of a fairly recent (beginning of 2019) rupture in the knitting & textiles world when a well known blogger, Karen Templer, wrote a blog post that caused a conversation about race, racism, and representation in the knitting world at large to erupt. This has led to a subsequent apology post, but also to a number of other knitters and crafters speaking up about their experiences and offering up advice for how to be a good ally to BIPOC crafters. One of the posts that has come up, which I’m sure White Negroes on the topic of cultural appropriation will help me to think more critically about, was this one: An Open Letter to White Makers & Designers Who Are Inspired By the Kimono and Japanese Culture by Emi Ito (guest post on Ysolda Teague’s blog). For more on cultural appropriation & more forthcoming titles, see below the cut!
Fungi. Shrooms (magic and otherwise). Sporing bodies.
Yeah, I have to admit, that last one doesn’t have quite the right mouthfeel as a description of what you put into your mouth every time you eat a mushroom or other fungus, but either way, I am incredibly pro-mycophagy. A fungivore, if you will (though I eat more than just fungi, so perhaps that isn’t quite the most accurate description?), who will heartily agree that mushrooms “represent[ing] a distinct and unique food group that adds a great deal to a healthy diet… should be eaten enthusiastically” (Bone, Mycophilia, p.186). (So much so, in fact, that I actually misremembered this quote as saying mushrooms should be eaten with exuberance.)
I love gobbling up shiitake mushrooms in either side dishes or soups, and the thought of being able to try out a new mushroom strikes me as an exciting adventure*, to the point where the missed opportunity to do so not long ago actually haunts me a bit.** It was only recently that I started wanting to learn more about the mushrooms I love though, despite having grown up eating a variety of fungi & mushrooms: shiitake, cloud & wood ear fungi, and enoki, to name a few. My interest was piqued by my gardening ventures, for sure, but also the fact that there’s a fun book written entirely on the topic of mushrooms (I’m not sure if it qualifies as a microhistory exactly): Mycophilia by Eugenia Bone. Mycophilia is exactly what it sounds like: an ode to mushrooms that will have you digging up different organizations and festivals, and which will have you wanting to forage for more information about fungi, if not actually for the mushrooms themselves. (I should note though, that this is not a foraging guide, of which we also have a number: mushroom guides for Canada.)
Eugenia Bone is also the author of Microbia: A Journey Into the Unseen World Around You, which is written in just as approachable a manner for the lay person. I did find a few chunks in Microbia that were repeated from at least one chapter to another though, which jarred me a bit as I was reading through it because – didn’t I just read this?? – which might actually have been worsened by the fact that some facts are actually just repeated between the two books, but apart from that found it quite a fun and informative read. And in reading both Microbia and Mycophilia, I believe the main lesson that Bone comes away with is actually a bit larger than just their exact subjects: it is that this entire world is interconnected, and that there is no individual that can exist independently of what has been contributed by all the other organisms that have done their part to make the environment what it currently is.
With that in mind, check out some more books about fungi and mushrooms below!