Tuesday 30 September 2014. The Perilous Life of a Mushroom

Got out on Rhododendron at around four this afternoon to check on the mushrooms. Alas! My worst fears were realized when I saw empty space under the Race Street spruces where the wonderful apparition of mushrooms had been for the last four days, at least.

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It was rather shocking, even though I knew it could happen. It looked like someone had gone in with a weed whacker and taken the felled mushrooms away. Devastation! A few mushrooms lay on their sides,

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and places near the ground where stems had been severed were visible.

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The devastation was not complete, however; a few mid-stage caps survived,

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and quite a few bumps of future mushrooms were just barely poking out of the ground. The life-force is not subdued so easily!

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Wondered what the motivation for violating this wonder of nature might have been. Did someone think they were edible and try to eat them, or that they were hallucinogenic and sell them? Hoped especially it wasn’t the former. Mushrooms span the whole spectrum from healthy and nutritious to deadly. Remembered the story of Babar, whose father, I think it was, died from eating a “bad mushroom.”

Here is a link to a thoughtful discussion of deciding whether to eat or avoid eating mushrooms.
And here is one about actually preparing fly aminitas, (also known as “fly agaric”) which I’m sure they are, from the research I’ve done, to eat, and it includes some of the lore of this species.

Actually, I think there probably were concerns about whether they, a “flush,” as it’s called in writings about fly amanitas, of these creatures, were a public health hazard, especially to a child that might wander off and quickly pop one in his or her mouth. All those mushrooms represent a whole lot of poison for anyone who might find them enticing to try but isn’t about to carefully wash and cook them.

Still, it brings up the question of how closely humans can live with nature and tolerate its dangers: poisonous snakes, rare wolves, coyotes that prey on our chickens, for example. Historically, we humans have held nature off in order, understandably, to protect ourselves, but often at the cost of experiencing its healing beauty.

So, sad as I am about losing them, ephemerality, by one path or another, does go with the mushroom territory. I’m just glad I was there to witness their brief, beautiful life.

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