"Why do I feel such an intense pleasure, such an intense satisfaction? The fact is that I do."
A review of the novels of Patrick O'Brian calls them the nautical counterpart of Jane Austen. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Jane but must say I find much more in O'Brian's descriptions of life on the open seas. Joining his adventures is probably as close as I'll get to living that dream.
Stephen Maturin, the ship's doctor, is also a curious naturalist not to mention spy extraordinaire. His "intense pleasure" is frequently predicated on a new discovery in nature.
I share that intense satisfaction, finding new surprises in every direction.
One certainly appeared when I began noticing the wonderful variety (not to mention colors) of the mushrooms which dotted my lawn.
Some are cone-shaped and there are puffballs. Others with an umbrella cap amused me when I spied a row bent in the middle at a ninety-degree angle. So many . . . all different . . . and wonders to my eyes.
For reasons that have no rational explanation (well, my Internet was out), I checked "Edible Wild Plants" and surprisingly found a page on mushrooms: "WARNING: There are no foolproof methods for determining edible or poisonous mushrooms." HINT: buy yours at the grocery store. (Besides, the book says any edible should be cooked. I relish mine raw in a large mixed salad.)
Internet back, I see what they have to say about fungus fungi or funguses. (Are there no rules for grammar left?) Lots on toenails indeed, fungi come in many varieties and can be found just about any place that's moist and, for reasons I won't check into, a pop-up to tell me to buy them at Walmart. Maybe. Maybe not. And no, dear questioner, mushrooms do not come from cat urine.
So why then are they scattered through my yard? I was intrigued to learn they need water or wet conditions. Generally I'd say that makes them a natural for our area. Beyond that and a surprise to me what we see is only the fruiting or reproductive part of the fungi. It's growing underground quite happily, thank you feeding on organic decomposing matter down there. This could be old wood, perhaps the roots of a long-ago tree, buried leaves or needles, or even the thatch from mown lawns. (They don't mention animal but I'd think that would apply as well.) Obviously decomposition is one of nature's blessings.
(Speaking of "decomposition," did I mention Maturin also played the cello?)
Back to my subject: I read that to rid one's lawn of mushrooms, one should stop watering (and pray, I suspect, for drought) or, alternately, give the lawn such a shot of high-powered food that the grasses will crowd the fungi out.
But why try to eliminate them? They don't last long and are really quite fascinating in all their various costumes. Of course one has to be positive pets and young children will give them a wide berth. My paper says it's necessary to wash one's hands for a full two minutes after touching one. My!
I wouldn't want to tell you all the things my dogs do find to eat out there (Minor particularly) but mushrooms at least hold no appeal.
That leaves me free to enjoy.
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org