Orange Mycena


Mycena leaiana
On a rotten hemlock log across a brook, Mt. Toby Reservation.

The new camera, for those who care, is this, not a digital SLR but a budget 12 MP Kodak point and shoot the first thing I did on which was reset the resolution to 10 MP. It has a big long zoom that, without stabilization, shockingly works not all that well, and a wide angle that lets me be 3 inches from the mushroom, which is old hat to most people but is new and wonderful to me. I’m still learning the semi-klunky interface, but it takes a nice picture when I let it.

Maize God Is Dead; Long Live Maize God

Time erodes all things, and new things, harder things, spring forth from their remains.

Old Maize God was made of orange-painted plaster. I bought him for a dollar from a wandering huckster kid at the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá and couldn’t work up the guts to toss him in the sacred cenoté. For three years, he guarded my garden from the likes of hungry wabbits, storm-felled trees and marauding bands of centaurs. But the winter of 2010 wormed its way through his plaster flesh, and he crumbled.

Young Maize God is carved from green-black jadeite, heavy and resilient as iron. I found him among the mazelike convolutions of market day in Chichicastenango, in the Guatemalan highlands. He’s done his best to take up the mantle of the old god—but come August, he and I must bid farewell to our much-loved little communal plot in the valley and travel east, back to the city, where fecundity will be restricted to a forest of pots on the back balcony.

Who knows what other change may come? Not I. Not he.

Happy solstice.

Hemlock Varnish Mushroom


Ganoderma tsugae
Mt. Toby Reservation, Sunderland, MA

These are smooth and soft to the touch, firm like a piece of cork. They grow pretty exclusively on hemlock—living wood or rotten. They’re inedible, but are ascribed medicinal properties when taken in the form of a tea or extract. Have not tried that yet.

I also read of one guy who puts it in his homebrew. Haven’t tried that either.


Before they get bigger, they look like this. This is from the other side of Mt. Toby back in May.