The sun has gone off over the Tropic of Cancer (actually the sun hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just the tilt of the Earth’s orbit that does it,) and the overcast skies have returned for another winter. I realised this morning that is is probably time for me to swap my Bensimon sneakers for sturdy boots on my daily walk with Oscar. Who knows when I’ll be able to dispense with my socks next: March next year or May even, like this year? Summer, short but ferocious, is over.
I find myself yet again in the position of apologising for not having been more forthcoming on my blog. Friends of mine will recognise this: the first half of every rare email or telephone call is taken up with grovelling apologies and excuses for why I haven’t been in touch. This time it’s not because of a disappearing blogging mojo. Oh no! I currently have more than enough stuff to write about that doesn’t betray confidences, tread on peoples’ toes or jeopardise their promising futures. But I’m waiting for better photos, or better memories to surface in my head. And I’ve been busy. Busy preparing for my Grade 8 singing exam in a month or two’s time and busy trying to finish the knitting project that has taken up most of almost two years now. With long knitting hiatuses, of course. I mean, I haven’t been knitting constantly for two years. I’ll be blogging shortly, I hope, about fascinators and civil partnerships and about the singing masterclass I did a couple of weeks ago. It’s just finding the time, really isn’t it, between laundry, and driving practice for the Boywonder and cooking and being mumtaxi and running around trying to make sense of my mother’s latest adventuring. But write I shall. As I shall eventually finish my novel, just not now.
In the meantime, I offer this token of my esteem for you, dear Reader. It is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, and mushrooms and other fruiting bodies are to be found aplenty in the woods around here. A couple of years ago I came across a venerable gentleman with a mushroom basket who told me that he had found over 60 different sorts of mushrooms in Beckenham Place Park woods that morning. Of course, I don’t believe him, but he had collected more than enough for a mushroom ragout.
John was out collecting last week and brought back the splendid parasol mushrooms featured at the top of this post, which were delicious in a frittata. At the last count we were all still here so we weren’t poisoned in the short term at least. It’s not rural enough here to justify training of every local pharmacist, as in France, to distinguish toxic fungi from edible ones, but I think that’s a pity. Here are some photos of some pretty things I saw on this morning’s walk with Oscar over to Scadbury Park. I suppose I’d better add here a disclaimer that I can’t be held responsible for your death or injury if you find similar ones and eat them.
Anyway, here’s my mushroom gallery. We have unaccountably mislaid our mushroom field guide and so I’ve taken guesses at some of the specimens based on Antonio Carluccio’s work, but I’d be really grateful if you might be able to make suggestions about the identity of these specimens. I didn’t pick any and I’m certainly not eating any without identifying them but it was amazing what I found just by the side of the path in the space of an hour or so this morning.
Don’t forget however, that mushroom toxicity is just the tip of the iceberg of fungal world domination strategy: the mushrooms and toadstools are only the fruiting body, the visible part of the vast, all-enveloping network of fungus that might one day envelop us all. Or perhaps it’s just a less scary metaphor for the creative genius that is bound to bear fruit in the coming few weeks and months? Who knows?