gifts for mushroom people

A Showa era netsuke of a frog and a mushroom.
A portable, rechargeable lamp for perusing field guides.
Amusing knife rests.
A platter suitable for fungi feasts.
A mushroom mystery box, because opening it up is just like hunting for mushrooms—you don't know what you'll find.
An image of a wanderer in a forest of colossal fungi.
An eternal (or near-eternal) mushroom.
A hand-carved charm.
A nifty knife and brush, for collecting and cleaning specimens.
Plugs for cultivating your own Tremella fuciformis, a.k.a. snow fungus, or a tremella serum.
A one-strap vest, because extra pockets come in handy on forays.
And a single-issue magazine designed to evoke the experience of walking through a leaf-shadowed forest and stumbling upon unexpected wonders in patches of light. Includes mushroom chatrooms, radical mycologists, spore prints, astrology, death eaters, poisons, folklore, jokes, grief, mycelial facts and factoids, memories, cult perfumes, neuroscience, people who dress like mushrooms, and a Q & A with my very favorite mycophile (Hugh, of course). I talk a little bit about it here.

gifts (and giving) for strict pedestrians*


Ethically made shoes that can take some mileage, and a gift to an organization that works around the world to "build health systems in solidarity, not charity."
Foldable sunglasses that can be stashed in a pocket, and the gift of clear sight.
Reflector badges plus a vest to stay seen, and a gift to shelter those unfairly made vulnerable by visibility.
Ceramic travel mugs for hot drinks on the go, and a gift to pottery workshop creating paid work for formerly incarcerated folks.
High performance socks for warm feet, and a gift to help families keep the heat on.
A bandana to encourage trekking onwards and upwards, and a gift to help every kid get outdoors

*In my family, we have a longstanding in-joke that our religious denomination is pedestrian, an identity claimed outright after a childhood experience listening to shiny-faced minister at my grandparents' Baptist church preach a sermon about the "Cadillac of Jesus" running down "the infidel." He gleefully enumerated a long and very specific list of people who would be hit, and I leaned over and asked my dad what we were. His answer? "Pedestrians." 

To my mind, being a pedestrian requires walking whenever possible, observing, and being present in the world around you. Over the years, my pedestrian practice has ranged from the orthodox (five years car-free) to the casual. These days, I am strict pedestrian, walking 15,000 steps a day, while also trying to find ways to walk alongside those who need it.

gifts for studies

The London Review Bookshop's Close Readings Plus: Among the Ancients: a subscription that includes "carefully chosen translations of Homer, Sappho, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Catullus, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, Ovid and Seneca," exclusive podcasts, and live seminars led by Emily Wilson(!). (This is at the tippy-top of my personal wishlist.)
An array of Postalco notebooks, specifically the A6 size with Pin-graph paper (the best). 
A prism magnifier, for parsing small print.
Colorful pens, for notes in the margins.
Vintage ring engraved by Annina Vogel with the phrase: "Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers."
An extremely elegant, be-fringed reading chair (or a replica of the chairs for curators and readers at the Bodleian Library).
A wooly jacket for woolgathering walks.
A complex perfume that smells like fall evenings.
An e-reader that seems almost too good to be true, perfect for reading open-source digital documents—it lets you read and mark-up PDFs (and 16 other file formats) with handwritten notes and can convert written text to audio, so that you can rest your eyes and listen.
sturdy bag for toting books home from the library.
A new idea (always welcome, even in postcard form).

gifts for singular six-year-olds

book that doubles as a planetarium (plus the amazing true story of two street dogs who went to space that's a favorite around here).
Kid-safe tools for creating cardboard kingdoms.
All-natural colors to make baths an immersive art experience.
Guilt-free glitter to stick to everything.
A trio of books with surrealist prompts that encourage you to draw the story: The Secret Life of Bananas, What Happens to Night During the Day?, and Hocus Pocus
A clever clip-on wallet for stashing found pennies and assorted treasures.
Bandanas full of science facts about everything from snakes to scat to clouds and constellations
A science(ish) project that combines two favorites: crystals and trees.
And filed under I never would have guessed: Two six-year-olds I know (including my own) want pretend washing machines more than anything for the holidays. (This despite the fact they have no interest in helping with the actual laundry.) The children have spoken?

gifts for burnt-out home cooks (who still have to make dinner)

A kit to make Xi’an Famous Foods' 'biang biang' noodles, because slapping dough against the counter is a needed catharsis after two years of pandemic cooking.
Measuring spoons of pleasing geometry.
A jar for storing vinegar (instead of letting it brew in your heart).
Cheerful scrubbies to help in summiting what my friend Abbey calls "dish mountain."
A box of tropical fruits, for a taste of sunshine.
"A rare and amusing book about food, about those who eat it and those who prepare it." (Also available here.)
Sky plates to make any meal a little more magical.
Cocktail picks, because crafting elaborate garnishes > crafting elaborate meals.
A stylish toaster oven with the all-important "pizza" setting.
Edible gold flakes, for making boxed mac and cheese EXTREMELY fancy.
A case of highly rated ramen, because noodle soup cures all. (Other amazing options here).