May, Fairy Caps.
The forester has fed his family a banquet of wild mushrooms over the years. Ceps, Chanterelles, Chicken of the Woods, Giant Puffballs, Parasol Mushrooms, Morels, St George’s Mushrooms and many more have graced his kitchen table. Friends ring him up for over the phone identification and bring him samples to cast his expert eye over. But would they be so trusting if they knew the upset stomachs, the sweating and even the hallucinations his poor family have endured. What would they make of the sunny afternoon in August, after a plateful of over mature horse mushrooms, when two mallard the size of dinosaurs flew low over his house with the sole intention of stealing the baby from the pram? And do they know why he has finally hung up his fungi collecting hat for good. That he ignored the golden rule; THE RIGHT MUSHROOM, IN THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME, IS THE WRONG MUSHROOM. If in doubt, don’t eat it. And never give it to your best friend’s son to eat. (It’s all right reader, young Tom was violently sick almost immediately but suffered no long term injury. The forester on the other hand had four months of misery, sure he would die at any moment, actually hoping he would die at any moment, he still suffers a week of agonies on the anniversary, in October, every year.)
And so, after this sorry story I treat mushrooms with the utmost respect. These tiny fairy caps appeared over night. Open in the dewy shade amongst some speedwell in the morning, by lunch time and in full sun they were shrivelled stems and by late afternoon there was no trace of them. I’m happy to watch the secret comings and goings of fungi, admire their variety, gasp at their beauty or shudder at their ugliness. I’ll rejoice in their mysteries but never forget the subtle art of poison some of them are so fluent in.