This Sunday, Rob and I had one of those days where we intended to get 50,000 house-related errands done and ended up staying home in our pajamas instead. Not that we were unproductive: I worked on various writing projects at the dining room table and he worked on his art back in the studio.
This is one of our favorite kinds of days – we relish the opportunity to let the creative juices just…flow. Around sundown, however, we both got antsy, so we headed out for a walk around the neighborhood and some much needed fresh air. The setting sun was creating a beautiful orange sky behind us, the air was crisp, and we were talking about how Fall had finally arrived…when suddenly, we came upon what looked like a ball right by the sidewalk. Or was it an egg? Or perhaps something made of styrofoam? We stopped to inspect. It was about the size of a small cantaloupe and had a slug creeping down its side. (See him in the photo, above, on the left?)
Upon closer inspection, we wondered if it was a moon, or a meteorite, or (I practically jumped up and down)…A MUSHROOM?
Of course, I immediately ran home to get my camera. I had just been lamenting the fact that this year hadn’t been very mushroom-y around these parts. Here it was the last day of September, and I hadn’t had a good mushroom sighting since May (which inspired me to write this very bad but well-intended poetry.) Previously, it seemed like mushrooms were popping up everywhere. I don’t claim to know a whole lot about fungi. I don’t go out of my way to hunt for them. Really, I’m just an enthusiast: I let them come to me and get positively giddy when they do.
We puzzled over this strange specimen. Just a few feet away, there was a similar shape, broken in half. I broke it a bit more with my foot – it sure felt like a mushroom and the insides seemed to have the right consistency.
After I did so, I spotted two more huddling together back in a thicket:
And another even bigger one hiding, off to the right:
When we got home, Rob googled “huge white round mushroom” and we learned that it is called a Giant Puffball or Calvatia Gigantea. Then we cross-referenced it in my beloved, The Book of Fungi. Turns out these things are edible (no thanks!), have no stem (what?), and can become super-huge, the largest recorded one reaching 5 feet in diameter and weighing in at 40 pounds.
Stumbling upon these weird globes during an evening stroll more than made up for an otherwise shroomless season. It was a perfect “cap” to a creative day. Here’s to creativity, within us all and all around us.
Have you ever seen one of these things? If you were to stumble upon one, what would you do: 1. quickly get your camera like I did 2. run away screaming and move out of the neighborhood 3. take a bite?