Mycological Magic

Uncanny and mysterious,  mushrooms abound in woods and meadows worldwide. Clinging to tree trunks, peeking from leaf-litter, nestled in the grass, mushrooms astonish and delight us with their outlandish shapes, bizarre tactile qualities, and weird aromas. They pop up suddenly, profuse wildly, and confound our taxonomies. IMG_3524 Discovering weird new varieties, like one I found in the Oregon woods with a ruffled base and conical fruiting body that oozed pineapple-scented goo when squished, thrills me. The hobbits’ thievery in Fellowship of the Ring always struck a chord: Good mushrooms are worth the risk. Wandering London’s Chinatown as a child, I was endlessly fascinated by the jars of dried fungi that crowded the window displays of apothecaries and grocery stores.  I love mushrooms.IMG_3605 Celebrated as they are, ritually, artistically, and culinarily, mushrooms are also feared and reviled: Darwin’s daughter Etty famously hunted and destroyed stinkhorns, lest their phalliform appearance corrupt the morals of those who saw them. Ayurveda proscribes the consumption of mushrooms because they grow in the dark and feed on decaying matter. And some people simply can’t abide their earthy flavors and spongily meaty textures. I, for one, can’t get enough. IMG_3634 A walk in Bainbridge Island’s Grand Forest after an autumn rain several months ago yielded no chanterelles, but many pictures, plentiful inspiration, and a piquant reminder of the wonders of the natural world. IMG_3652 IMG_3666 IMG_3574 IMG_3568 IMG_3548 IMG_3594 IMG_3537 IMG_3555 IMG_3541   IMG_3604 IMG_3522   IMG_3679 IMG_3639 IMG_3673

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