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Emails to my Therapist

Email to My Therapist: What’s Up With Mashed Potato Mountains and Green Moss ?

Dear Nicholas, Ever since I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where characters get obsessed with reproducing the shape of a particular mountain–including making a mashed potato mountain– I’ve thought about such strong seemingly nonsensical urges.

With me, it seems to be green moss.

New York, Central Park

I’ve recently noticed that I shoot pictures of green moss over and over on my travels. Portraits of moss. Close-ups, or as close as I can get. I’ve found pictures of moss going back more than ten years — and I only recently noticed this pattern. Have also this spring started a little moss garden in my yard — still very patchy.

Holwell, Somerset, England

In the movie Close Encounters, the repeating shape — the drawings and sculpture of the mountain– led to aliens.

Perhaps I have hopes of photographing woodland fairies. I wouldn’t put it past me.

But this isn’t as frivolous a question as it might seem. At what point is a moss simply a moss? Or does the choice of a not-quite-obsessive-but-extremely-fascinating image have any meaning? My psychologist husband has more than once complained that I make everything psychological. I don’t see any problem with trying to wring the meaning out of things.

Arenal, Costa Rica

A similar question: what madly pulls people toward another culture that doesn’t seem a likely match or even an opposites-attract kind of choice. I think if I get why a North Carolina friend is a Florida-loving Anglophile, then I’ll understand about the green mosses.

I’m a life-long North Carolinian of (as far as I know) mostly Anglo background, who is a New-Yorkophile with leanings toward Ireland, India, and Wales. See mossy woods in Ireland below.

Glendalough, Ireland

Maybe the moss fascination is simply personal taste. Maybe it’s like a preference for caramel with ice cream.

Anyway, I’m curious if other folks have their green moss or mashed potato mountain type fixations. Now that I think about it, I do have a friend who shoots lots of pictures of orbs. This repeating image business seems quite different to me from shooting selfies or pictures of plates of food or grandchildren. I’m just curious.

Peaks of Otter, Virginia

And here’s the spot I asked Bob to take a picture of me in Ireland.

Powerscourt Gardens, County Wicklow, Ireland

Thanks for pondering this.

Peggy

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Comments

  • Kenju
    April 25, 2017 at 11:11 pm Reply

    I think mosses are fascinating and there is nothing wrong with documenting that.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 26, 2017 at 1:32 am Reply

      Glad to know you’re a moss fan, Kenju. I don’t see anything wrong with it either.

  • April 26, 2017 at 1:05 am Reply

    I TAKE PHOTOS OF DOORS EVERYWHERE. I DON’T REMEMBER THERE BEING MOSS IN ANY OF YOUR BOOKS. MAYBE YOU SHOULD PUT SOME IN. OR MAYBE NOT. I REMEMBER HEARING SOME FAMOUS WRITER (CAN’T REMEMBER WHO) BEING ASKED BY AN INTERVIEWEDR ABOUT HOW THERE WERE SPIDERS ALL THROUGH ONE OF HER BOOKS. SHE SAID SHE JUST WENT THROUGH A SPIDER PHASE. IT WAS REFRESHING. BUT MAYBE NOT TRUE. IS THERE MOSS IN YOUR BOOKS. SHOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT IT. MAYBE NOT A WHOLE BOOK. A SHORT STORY, PERHAPS. POEM? OR MAYBE IT DOESN’T MATTER. BUT IT’S INTERESTING TO CONSIDER.

    • Peggy Payne
      April 26, 2017 at 1:35 am Reply

      And what do you make of your choice of doors, Randee? Seems more clearly meaningful than moss. Maybe moss is about not always being a rolling stone. I’m pleased not to have gone through a spider phase. Interesting that I haven’t written about moss– I’m flattered that you know that. I will keep this possibility in mind.

  • Peggy Payne
    April 26, 2017 at 1:50 am Reply

    Just did a little googling and found this story “The Fascinating Powers of Japanese Moss.” There’s a hotel that offers moss-themed packages and “moss observation workshops….Small groups, mainly of women, banded together to observe moss. Participants are fascinated by this relaxing vegetal texture…” So I’m not alone in my enthusiasm.

    http://www.hoshinoresorts-magazine.com/en/fascinating-powers-japanese-moss/

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