On and Over the Hills

"Go as far as you can see; when you get there you'll be able to see farther." ~ Thomas Carlyle

The MUSHroom

Maybe it was the word itself: mush-room.Hardly appealing.My early lust for language must have taken immediate offence.

Mush: what you might have to eat if your mum couldn’t cook, or your family was too poor to buy real food; a sticky gooey grainy lumpy clump of clay-coloured gruel in the bottom of a plastic bowl.

Okay, so it’s cornmeal, but I didn’t know that. Luckily, I had not had to eat it. I am sure I would have refused.

All I knew is that it squeaked when you bit into it like it was hurting or even teasing. It was not dead.

Imagine how much better I felt about them when I learned that they were a fungus! Yay! Genetic studies have shown that fungi are more closely related to animals, but they are neither fauna nor flora.They are aliens! Do vegetarians know this?

Mush: an order barked by whip-wielding, face-hidden men taking joy rides on the rungs of a sleigh at the pleasure of poor, harnessed, enslaved beasts. (Learning that the dogs often enjoy the work has not improved
my perspective on the word.)

Mush: the sexy stuff on TV that I wasn’t allowed to watch. It mushed have been bad for me.

Just think of the rhymes. Flush (ick). Brush (get that thing away from me!) Gush (ick). Lush. Rush. Hush.

And where are they rumoured to grow best? You got it. Mega-Ick!

I mean, really. Is it actually normal to like mushrooms? Who is the normal one here? It’s not like they’re sweet, or juicy, or even crunchy. They are rubbery. They taste like – well – again: where do they grow?

It’s a joke you know. They are actually all supposed to be poisonous. “Humans are a gas,” Mother Nature chortled to the sun. “They want everything they think they can’t have. Watch this,” she croaked as she waved her magic wand on a species or two and leaning on a fluffy cloud doubled over in glee as the first humans choked them down and pounded their hairy chests.

One lucky Neanderthal danced around and grunted the first ever rock ballad! He was immediately promoted to medicine man. Another got all mushy and became the mother of all politicians.

I’m surprised you don’t hear more about mushrooms being used as murder weapons. You would think it would be so easy. Bring him home, cook him a fancy meal – he’ll rave about the exotic mushrooms – and then. Poof! He’s a gonner.

Mushrooms.You can’t pick them until you’ve been certified by a trained professional who will show you a confusing array of signs to distinguish between the edible and poisonous ones and then smuggly walk away
knowing that you won’t be any competition for his harvest.

Mushrooms are sneaky. They hide underground for thousands of years spreading out hundreds of miles before they sense their prey above and suddenly spring up in the dark with the stealth of a lynx and begin to
chow down on their victim. Luckily, it’s already dead.

Mushrooms are good for you. They contain no fats or cholesterol and little calories, carbohydrates or sodium. Sound tasty? Not.

Mushrooms are good for the climate when they dry out in the soil, so we should leave them there. If you pick them, how are the scientists going to be able to do their globally beneficial experiments?

So mushrooms do have their good qualities. There are things you can do with them.

Just don’t make me eat them.

40 comments on “The MUSHroom

  1. Bob Zeller
    July 23, 2011

    This guy’s wife died from eating poisonous mushrooms.
    His second wife died a violent death.
    She refused to eat her poisonous mushrooms. 🙂

    I love this post, Cindy. Very light and humorous, and as you know, I have a great sens of humor. I love that final picture. I almost missed the little details. Oh, great photographs, too, from which you must have gotten the knees of you jeans a bit stained. 🙂

    • missusk76
      July 23, 2011

      Thanks, Bob. I stand corrected. Murder weapon it is. 🙂 I’m glad you caught the ‘details’ in the final picture. When I took it I knew I would have to play with it. And yes I did get a bit mucky, but then, I always do. I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere if I worried about that. I take ‘hiking pants’ to work for my lunch walks.

  2. Bob Zeller
    July 23, 2011

    Oops, a couple of typos in my reply above. Sorry. 🙂

  3. pixilated2
    July 23, 2011


    You made laugh so hard about the mush. When I was little my grandmother raved about her fried cornmeal mush. She would make the cornmeal and then butter a loaf pan. Spreading the cornmeal into the bottom of the pan she would then refrigerate it over night. Next morning she would invert the glop onto a bread board, and slicing it into 3/4 inch slices fry it in butter or oil. Then she would tell you how WONDERFUL it was, proceed to pour maple syrup over the whole mess, and all the while exhorting that you eat her wonderful creation.

    Are you gagging yet? I always did.

    • missusk76
      July 23, 2011

      Too funny, Lynda! Thanks for the giggle (and the gag)!

  4. james winters
    July 23, 2011

    May I suggest to “kick it up a notch.” Consider Kombucha. We’re vegans and starting to drink this. Basically fermented mushroom juice. No seriously, it’s birch beer or just something lovely.

    In the mood for a story, not a fable but true I think. A man alone in Patagonia was told that he should bring a cat and feed whatever plant he found there to the cat and if the cat lived then eat it himself. He says that he loved the cat and so he would eat them and then if he lived feed the same to his kitty. Seems like a tender story of love for his cat. I will refrain from soap-boxing within veganism. It’s my life, though. I end by saying your photography is very beautiful and your writing very skillful.

    • missusk76
      July 23, 2011

      Hi James. If anybody ever offers me a sip, I’ll definitely try it out. I’m not totally unadventurous food/drink-wise. For some reason I was just born with an aversion to mushrooms and seafood. My husband loves them both. We use mushrooms – he just gets a double serving, which he’s quite happy with. I admire you for your vegan lifestyle. I’m honestly just too lazy to change and I expect my husband wouldn’t be thrilled. We are what is becoming old fashioned though and eat whole/real food that is as natural and organic as we can get. I am more concerned with the culture of prepared foods than I am about meat eating, although I recognize that it is an issue.

      Thank you for your interesting comment, your compliments and wonderful story – that, I can completely relate to! We have a dog, a cat and two horses and I’d never sacrifice any of them for my benefit. They are parts of the family.

    • pixilated2
      July 23, 2011

      James, this is off topic (and I hope not gauche to ask… if it is I am sorry Cindy!) but what is the instrument you are playing in your gravatar photo? I ask because my sister-in-law, and ALL her friends, play the harp as well as other beautiful and wonderful instruments of the world. So far, I do not believe I have seen any of them play the one you have here. Thanks for sharing! Lynda

  5. Rose
    July 25, 2011

    I’m not a huge fan of mushrooms myself, only on recipe works for me [put them in the oven with cheese and tomato inside and that’s it. :)], but they are sure cute to photograph! 🙂
    So, for what’s worth, I like them!

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      The cheese and tomato sound wonderful…:)

  6. Photo By Holly
    July 25, 2011

    This pretty much sums up how I feel about mushrooms – can’t stand ’em! My husband and both of my boys love them, but keep them off of my plate! Love the last image – very creative, and well done!! 🙂

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      I’m so glad I’m not alone here! Thanks for your supportive words, Holly. I soon should have more time again to get back into the blogging swing of things.

  7. Jim Rook
    July 26, 2011

    I looked and I looked and finally a little lady gnome in the final picture. A truly remarkable group of photos. While not necessarily appreciated for their beauty or in some cases their appropriateness for the table, I’ve always found them appealing; in both roles. You really did a great job of showing not only several varieties of fungi but also gave us a feel for how they actually appear in nature.

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      Thank you Jim. I feel the same about mushrooms as I do about bugs – as much as I don’t want to eat them, I am fascinated by them in nature. Thank you for your compliments. Hope to get a chance to get by and see what you have been up to very soon.

  8. Zeno
    July 27, 2011

    I may agree with some of the things you said about mushrooms, but I really like eating them.
    They are good cooked in any sort of way. Kia, on the other hand, shares with you this idiosyncracy about mushrooms. The one thing she likes about them is the smell of woods.

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      I too love them as a beautiful part of nature and perhaps I’ll have to sniff them before my husband adds them to the nest stir-fry (I pick them out). It can never hurt to have another reason to appreciate something.

  9. Kia
    July 28, 2011

    Hum… I am pretty sure Zeno did comment on this… strange. Anyway, lovely lady gnome with such a pretty fairy house ;D

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      Thank you Kia. He did, I just didn’t get back to approve it soon enough. Sorry. Just as I am so shamefully behind in replying.

  10. Steve Schwartzman
    July 30, 2011

    It’s great that you have so many mushrooms up there. Here in Texas, with the continuing drought, I can’t remember the last time I saw, much less photographed, a mushroom in the wild.

    Steve Schwartzman

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      We are truly awash with mushrooms this year. I have never noticed so many shapes, sizes and colours. It’s fascinating!

  11. Deb Weyrich-Cody
    July 30, 2011

    Oh Cindy, aren’t fungi lovely? You do the same thing as I do: Elves, Faeries and Fey Folk abound in the woods, if we only move carefully enough so as to not startle them. (So tell me… Did you happen to find any strawberries while you were down there?:D

    I must take exception to your aversion to this most important task assigned to our fungal friends. They are an integral part of every ecosystem on the planet and a huge source of nutrition at every level. To relegate them strictly to the midden heap is most disrespectful…(although your photos do pay a lovely homage, despite your culinary aversion; )

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      The strawberries were not quite ready (or the ‘Fey Folk had got to them first). I do find mushrooms very appealing and I do appreciate their part in nature – I just don’t want to eat them! 🙂 Thank you so much for your complimentary comment.

  12. B.Held
    August 1, 2011

    I am really enjoying this lovely mushroom study.

  13. Heather
    August 14, 2011

    This is adorable, Cindy. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at a mushroom quite the same way. They’re actually one of my cat’s favourite foods/toys and though I love mushrooms they fall in the category of food that leave me wondering ‘how did they ever figure out these were edible?’

    A lovely post and a great evening read.

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      Thanks, Heather. I am always amazed at the evident natural wisdom of the first peoples, who must have understood nature so much more clearly than we ever will, despite our scientific knowledge.

  14. Sybil
    August 15, 2011

    I love mushroom. Someone has to ! 😉

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      I agree. Otherwise, what would I gripe about?

  15. TM Surratt
    August 20, 2011

    Hey Cindy, since I can’t find you on Flickr I came to see you here and enjoyed your sense of humor and photos of course.
    Miss you but I understand too that Flickr is so time consuming. I’ll just stop in here from time to time.

    • missusk76
      August 21, 2011

      Hi Tim. It’s good to see you here although I have been as neglectful of my blog as I have been of Flickr. I’m renovating and reorganizing the library and time is running out. It’s been quite a project. The only free time (and free brain cells) I’ve had, I’ve spent organizing and researching my nature pictures for my local nature blog. I felt I needed to get at those before I forgot everything! Anyway, I will be back here and to Flickr sometime in September when I get the library up and running. I do miss it all and it’s awfully nice to know that someone else misses me too!

  16. sojourner
    December 17, 2011

    Hello, I enjoyed reading mushroom 101…and I laughed a lot!

    • Cindy Kilpatrick
      December 26, 2011

      Thank you sojourner. I’m glad you caught the intended humour.

  17. Shannon
    July 5, 2012

    Came over from Bob Zeller’s blog. I very much enjoyed this piece! I have a fascination and appreciation for all things fungi, and your lovely photo stood out in your archives.

    • Cindy Kilpatrick
      July 7, 2012

      Hi Shannon, I’m glad you popped over! I admire Bob’s blog very much. I too am always drawn to fungi – the variety of colour and shapes, the magical quality of their grown and disappearance. Thank you for the compliment and I’m looking forward to checking out your blog, I title of which I adore.

      • Shannon
        July 7, 2012

        You might like my fungi post. It was mostly fun, and for the kids (who loved it). http://wp.me/p28k6D-q3

        I had been reading the fungi chapter in a book called Teaming with Microbes. Fungi is the stuff of sci-fi, swear.

  18. Rand
    July 6, 2012

    If you don’t eat them you will never know the pleasure…and it is great…as long as you do your research and feed them to someone else first ☺

    • Cindy Kilpatrick
      July 7, 2012

      Hello Rand and welcome! I do eat them actually, but not by choice. I don’t stop my husband from putting them in the food he cooks, but he makes sure they are large pieces so I can pluck them out (and put them on his plate). Occasionally, I miss one and discover it in my mouth. I don’t remove it, but there is something about the texture, more than the taste, that is just very off-putting for me. So – I do feed them to someone else first. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • TM Surratt
      July 7, 2012

      Hey Cindy I’ve missed you dear friend. I just got this notice of you posting this blog so I had to come say hello. I hope life is treating you good and that you and your family are healthy… an important thing.
      I love your documentary of the mushroom and your writing is always a joy to read.

      • Cindy Kilpatrick
        July 9, 2012

        Thanks, Tim. Everything is great. Just super busy and I haven’t had the down-time to focus on writing or playing with pictures, although I’m still taking lots. Plus I had a computer melt-down and have had to get used to a bunch of new stuff. I hope to get back to it all soon. I’m touched to know you are thinking of me, I miss our regular exchanges on Flickr as well and will be back.

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This entry was posted on July 23, 2011 by in The Journey and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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