Back to the Fungus Book

I don’t know about where you live, but it’s been raining here for at least 5 days and I think the gloomy weather is slated to continue a few more. Commuters weary of wearing the boots and winter coats are quite simply back in their parkas; perhaps a hearty few are sporting some fresh layers under that more lively looking raincoat.

Over the weekend, however, I found evidence that the wet conditions are not just confined to the outside environs. What I found had me racing back to the book on those interesting species, the Fungi, only this time not from what I saw in my garden, but rather what’s living behind the washing machine.

The family would probably advise me not to post this, but the natural world intrigues me and we need to appreciate beauty in many of its unsung forms. The washer has had a leak for a while now; it’s just not very visible. What IS visible is how far it’s been pulled out from the wall in anticipation of someone trying to do something to fix the situation. I’m not sure just what prompted me to go headfirst over the back of the machine late Sunday night, but I found something amazing.

Consider the “jelly fungi.” These gems appear soft, flexible, and somewhat shelf-like. Just as their outdoor cousins did, these too seem to sport some kind of fruiting trumpet cup, and when I extracted what I could by carefully dragging one out with an extended, deformed coat hanger, the aroma of fresh mushrooms was enticing. To me, anyway.

Of course, none of the family wanted any part of this. And with the press of travellers coming to visit for the graduation at week’s end, I had to leave these specimens in hopes of finding a hand-lens before they are removed. I will say it was disturbing to discover two more of their kind on the kitchen side of that same wall, but all this is just going to have to wait until we see the sun again.

I close with a small tribute to the great MIT Physics Professor Walter Lewin, who, at age 75, delivered his last lecture at MIT this past Monday night. The question he asks in the posting about this on MIT’s homepage today relates to my small fungus: “…But as far as I’m concerned, why should I be the only one to enjoy such hidden wonders?”[i]

Thank goodness for the wonders of our world.

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