Mushrooms

Bolete owl

The mid-summer woods are dark and damp and full of mystery. Visibility is at a minimum. Things crash off through the brush without ever giving one so much as a glimpse. Strange calls issue from the throats of recently fledged birds.

Toothsome amanita

Mushroom. It sounds like a good place to get polenta, or the last stop in an obedience school for sled dogs. Then too, it conjures up the effects of certain fungi on humans: ventilating the rooms of the mind with extra windows, say, or dissolving the liver.

Spokes

Small patches of sunlight slide across the forest floor and disappear, re-appearing a few feet or many yards away. The photographer of mushrooms can either stalk these patches of available light and see what they illuminate, or find a potential subject and wait for the sun. Or, of course, one can forgo the sunlight altogether, use a tripod, and shoot in the gloom.

Bolete abstract

Me, I lie in ambush. I figure I’ll know my quarry when it comes.

Dying sun

18 Comments


  1. Thanks, marja-leena! You would know.

    Jane – I’m not good at mushroom i.d.s, but I believe these were all common species that I could probably confirm in a few minutes with a field guide if I had one handy. The two black-and-white ones are boletes, and the other three are amanitas or russulas, I think.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Those are great looking mushrooms, dave, and very fine photographs. I am reminded of how people called them “shrooms” when they were about to partake of the psychedelic fungi. Have you ever read any Terence McKenna? He believed human civilization developed after early hunter-gatherers accidentally ingested magic mushrooms.

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  3. I once did a newspaper feature on mushroom pickers working forest patches at Nescopeck State Park, Dave. They were amazing (the pickers AND the mushrooms); able to identify the ones to pick at a mere glance while simply stepping over those that weren’t. Me, I’m a mushroom idiot, barely being able to identify a stryofoam pack of industrialized mushroom fruits at the grocery.

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  4. robin andrea – Speaking of ‘shrooms, I presume you saw the news about the recent study of the effects of psilocybin? What was interesting to me was not the fact that the subjects had profound mystical experiences (no shit), but that positive effects on their whole outlook persisted for months. So yeah, I haven’t read McKenna — his thesis always seemed just a tad simplistic — but at least some limited potential for brain “re-wiring” might be there.

    Alan – Yes, it’s like a subculture, isn’t it? Years ago, my brother briefly dated a young woman from Carbondale PA who was of Lithuanian heritage. Her people all gathered mushrooms as a matter of course. I think it’s really only the English that developed such an irrational fear/hatred of the fungal kingdom.

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  5. Weird and wonderful, Dave.

    I think the potential for ventilating with some extra windows — a great way to put it — is definitely there. Alternatively, one can get one’s fresh air by sea kayaking. ;-)

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  6. MB – Thanks. I strive for that combination.

    Alternatively, one can get one’s fresh air by sea kayaking.

    I’m somewhat familiar with endorphion highs, but I’m not a big adrenalin junky. But to each his/her own! (Only wish my government felt the same way.)

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  7. Dave, adrenalin isn’t necessary or, from my point of view, desirable. It wasn’t a part of my recent experience. What I’m talking about is being suffused with beauty and appreciation, at a level that makes you aware of being a true part. (And I wish my government valued this also.)

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  8. Oh. Well, I’m definitely down with that! Sounds like you had a great time.

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  9. Hm, those latter ones, to paraphrase the line from the bar pianist… ‘the camera has been eating mushrooms, not me.’

    My dad was just telling me the other day about picking mushrooms with his father and brother when he was a kid. His father is native Polish, his mother Polish and Lithuanian. Too bad I never learned.

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  10. Well, it’s never to late to learn. There are a few mushrooms that are a) delicious and b) difficult to confuse with anything deadly, and those are the ones i pick: giant puffballs, morels (when i can find them – not often), chicken mushrooms (a.k.a. sulfur shelf), oyster mushrooms, chanterelles.

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  11. Shrooms are the best shit u can have. Thanks to them I am able to see the future and know what lies a head. I have seen humanity rise and fall many times but in the end it does not matter for what reasons that we face now and things that we ignore will haunt us for our lives, for there will be consequences for every action done or word said. There is no hope but only hell to come all to have fallen victims to the ways of the path that was never ment to be tooken, those that sleep for eternity will once rise and except whats coming to them for they know but did not act, all is well that ends well, for those that ment good.

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  12. We live in the present, not in the future. I’ve been waiting for the future for almost 41 years now, and it has yet to arrive. As for shrooms, things seen under the influence of one substance are no more reliable than things seen under the influence of any other substance (food, sleep, whatever), though sometimes they’re damned amusing.

    Thanks for the comment though.

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  13. Rob, maybe mackenna has some sort of right on that one :)
    Magic mushrooms were used in the ancient times by maias to treat some diseases and for higher elevation in relegion.

    Beautiful photos dave.

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  14. Hi Roland – Thanks for the comment. Mushrooms were and are used for religious/medicinal purposes by several different native peoples in Mesoamerica, as well as by a wide range of northern and Siberian peoples in Eurasia.

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