A Mushroom Moment

It takes a squirrel to make me realize, most keenly, how clumsy and inadequate I am as a photographer. That is why you will see no photographs of Gerald here. Or George. They defy me. They exist, in my photo library, as blurs and snippets of taunting shadows. Fluffy tails whisking out of sight.

I can only show you where Gerald just was.

He was just here, eating this mushroom. If you look closely, you can see his teeth marks. That is all you get of Gerald.

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But I can tell you that this episode sent me off on a frenzy of googling. For, you see, Gerald was very much drunk. Or at least that is how it seemed. He took a few bites of this mushroom (poisonous) and went cavorting off like a crazed jackrabbit.

Google knew exactly what I was frantically trying to find, and finished my sentence for me.  ‘Can a squirrel eat…mushrooms?’…

It would seem I am not the only one who has wanted to save a squirrel from poisoning. And it turns out that, not only can squirrels eat poisonous mushrooms, they actually harvest them, and dry them for future consumption.

(I picture little clotheslines strung between branches, with thin slices of delicate Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca flapping in the breeze. Squirrel not in the picture, because of course, it has just scampered tantalizingly off-stage.)

I was actually quite concerned for his safety, as I watched ‘Gerald’ go careening up hills, rocks and trees, then come tumbling down again in a fluffy tangle of red tail and snowy white chest, and paws akimbo.

So…it turns out that squirrels, in addition to being elusive to capture adequately in photography, are also immune to mushroom toxins. They can get drunk on fermented apples, high on mushrooms, and happily survive both.

If they don’t break their necks.


This is also a good time to mention, no, you’re not hallucinating, I did change my blog around a bit. It is still a work in progress, so please let me know if there is anything you don’t like about it. Some people do spring cleaning in the season appropriate to the name…I get inspired to do my cleaning and rearranging in the fall. Thanks, as always, for visiting!

Realize: Unbelievably, a Poem

If Realize
were a perfume
it would be subtle
some might say dull
as though you could
enter or leave a room
and no one would
notice

but oh what fun
its sister scent
The Aha Moment
is having
all bursts of light
and sparkling
conception
you see her there
surrounded
by titillated
admirers

Can we even glimpse
that other cousin
Epiphany?
all distant incense
and seizures
of other-worldly
Knowingness
quickly bored, recently
departed

Such comets leave
exhausting effluvium
and make one think
no, perhaps Realize
is good
sensible
analytical
even if rather
dull

Then comes Wonder
to whisper in your ear
she leaves you breathless
with her strange perfume
no poor relation, this–
you follow her,
completely alive
unknowing but
now knowing
(Revelation)


realize

The Cinderella of Flowers

“Like fairy sausages.” — Through The Woods

At long last, I bring thee catkins.

I’ve been waiting for the catkin season to begin. My woodland walk the other day yielded, at last, a few sightings, glimmering from a hazel tree. I have been longing to see them in the wild since reading H.E. Bates’ nature book Through the Woods, and his lovely, evocative descriptions.

Well, perhaps his likening them to ‘fairy sausages‘ is not so lovely, but it is captivating. And strangely evocative. I’m not sure why, given the fact that fairies don’t exist. And if they did, as we imagine them in their wee, weightless, frolicsome days of dancing hidden in tall grasses, does it not seem even more fanciful that we would come across them devouring greasy, heavy sausages with a side of mustard?

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Unlikely…yet ‘like fairy sausages‘ seems so right a description of these lovely pendulous flowers.

‘No poet that I can call to mind has put himself into ecstasies over the ruby blossoms of the elm or into half the state of singing over the purple catkins of the alder that he keeps for the cherry and the rose. The catkin is a sort of Cinderella among flowers, not so much unwanted as unnoticed. The poet who lifts his eyes to the stars or lowers them for the flowers, the stars on earth, often misses as he does so the flowers that hang between earth and heaven, the delicate and unflashing constellations that light up the dark branches of wintery trees.’

I just love the splendid geometry of the design in their tightly budded state. I hope to go back and photograph them in their opening stages through the winter.

(And thank you and your nature books, H.E. Bates, for opening my eyes to this seasonal wonder.)


A side note, given my Curious Word tendencies…Catkins and pussywillows have more in common than inflorescence. A pussywillow is a catkin; a catkin not necessarily a pussywillow; it depends upon which tree or shrub it blooms from. But both names reflect the fact that children loved these manifestations of nature, and gave them names that reflected their endearing quality. Catkins means ‘kitten tails’, from a Dutch word, and pussywillows because they resemble the soft, strokable fur of a kitty.

Or a sausage, if you’re hungry.

As mentioned, my earlier post on H.E. Bates also featured the gorgeous woodcut illustrations by Agnes Miller Parker; one of which I show here.