Being away from my wife, two children and four grandchildren while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sheki, Azerbaijan, was difficult physically, taxing mentally and an emotionally lonely experience.

One day I sought refuge by hiking to the top of a Caucasus mountain that I could see from my rented room window. On the way up, the colors and shapes of a microcosm of nature’s wonder appeared by the side of the path.

The mushrooms seemed to be popping as I watched and the rich brown of the leaves, orange of the trees, white of the emerging mushrooms and purple of the mature one made a more intense impact on my senses because of the green surroundings.

In Rachel Carson’s words, I realized that “Those who dwell, as scientists or laymen, among the beauties and mysteries of the earth, are never alone or weary of life.” 


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Bio: Joel Robbins is a retired teacher, retired journalist, returned Peace Corps Volunteer and author of four Kindle books. He and his wife split their time between Syracuse, Indiana, and Nokomis, Florida.

mushrooms -- photograph by Joel Robbins
Robbins took this photograph in 2008 while a Peace Corps volunteer (Khan Yaylaq Mountain, the Caucasus Mountains, Azerbaijan).

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