"They're highly poisonous," said the stranger, slowing down to speak. "Instant liver failure."
He walked on, looking back critically a couple of times as if suspecting I would suddenly reach down, tear the toadstools from their log and cram them hungrily into my mouth.
It would have been an inelegant place to die - bent upside down in a leaf silted stream with my phone camera tilted so their underneaths could be seen through the viewer.
These are what he was talking about.
This is how he saw them.
The same fungus; a different angle.
Apparently a completely different being.
Totally different atmosphere.
I don't know how anyone can tell what's what!
And on the same stump - these.
I'm calling them Pasta Shell Fungus.
(There were others too but they were darkly purple and round a corner. I'd have needed a tripod . . . a spotlight . . . anyway, they wouldn't photograph.)
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Further along the stream, where the ditch water was running properly but smellyly; where it was horrible and muddy and little bitey things were hovering round my ankles . . . there were these, also on a log.
In the photo, they look dry and pleasant. They were dry - but definitely not pleasant. They looked like a pale version of the large, fat, orange slugs everyone says don't do much damage in a garden but which make me shudder if ever I turn over a stone and find one there.
In fact, they were so repelling, I had to force myself to stay. I don't even like the pictures, though I realise they probably don't look too bad unless you've met this slug in person.
Sometimes, it's square . . . then it turns into a dome, then it stretches out . . . oh! I'll give myself nightmares.
And while I was ploughing about in the mud, wishing I didn't have to wait until Christmas for another pair of shoes (I have only one pair till then; one for outside and clogs for the house) I was thinking how much I am treading in Darwin's footsteps. I am the new Linnaeus. For, after all, they, like me, were starting from a point of relative ignorance. It was only because they got there first that they were allowed to do all the identifying and describing . . . and naming. But how they felt about their discoveries wouldn't have been a lot different.
"Oh look!" Darwin would have said. "Doesn't that fungus look just like a three inch wide pasta shell!"
"Indeed it does!" Linnaeus would have replied. "Let's call it a "Fungus Pasta Shellicus!". And Darwin would have said "But doesn't that sound too much like a name for a dinosaur?" And Philip Gosse . . . (along to keep an eye on things) would have said "And what's a dinosaur when it's at home?"Sort of thing.
Don't you think?
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