wool gathering

When I lived in Madrid, I had a friend who collected building façades.

These weren’t just the well known landmarks like the bright red bricks and decorative paintings of the Plaza Mayor, the imposing white, wedding-cake like tiers of the Palacio de Comunicaciones or the complex scrollwork of the Palacio Longoria (which was ruined, anyway, in those days, by ugly air-conditioning units.) No. These were the kind of façade you can find on any street – if you’re paying attention.
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Mushrooms, toadstools, fungi, moulds, yeast… neither plant not animal, whatever they are, they are quite fascinating and often strangely attractive.

Perhaps I like them because I was an urban child and never came across anything more exotic than the button mushrooms and flats that we could buy at the greengrocer’s. Anything that was found in the wild was labelled as potentially poisonous, so had to be avoided.

As I got older, the flat mushrooms in supermarkets got larger and larger, perfect for stuffing and serving as the inevitable home dinner-party starter of the Seventies.
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days of fog and fungi


Jungle-blossom fungi
cluster around tree stumps;
the air smells of woodsmoke

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notes for a poem

Bonfire smoke mixes with drizzle.
From beyond the olive grove,
the stink of pigs rises defiant.

unidentified mushrooms in grass
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days of damp and mushrooms


The village is celebrating its jornadas micológicas this weekend, which means that the local restaurants are offering all sorts of weird and wonderful fungal specialities. I don’t expect to be indulging, having had a bad reaction a couple of years ago.

Instead, I have been out observing the hongos on the lawn. Although the weather is beginning to be autumnal and the fog was so thick this morning that I thought we’d lost the orchard, we had more mushrooms last weekend, I think. Certainly more variety.
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