I am spending most of August on the East End of Long Island. It rained a ton earlier this week. Up from the ground in the yard outside my rental house sprung a stunning variety of ‘shrooms.
Don’t worry. I didn’t immediately rush out to cut them down, slice them up and saute them in butter.
Fact is, I have no idea what varieties these are. One thing I do know about wild mushrooms is that if you eat the wrong ones they can either kill your liver, make you blind, make you hallucinate, make your tummy happy, or kill you outright.
The variety in the yard is amazing. One looks like the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Another looks like pure evil to me. It made me scared just peeking at it. It’s got brown spikes and some kind of excrement-looking death-purple bulbous mass protruding from its base. Seriousy, what the hell is this thing? Am I risking my life living within a mile of it?
Weirdly, on this property in the woods are also a few gravesites. There is a headstone marking the resting place of a girl named Hattie who died March 8, 1864 at the age of one-year-ten-months. About 100 feet from that are buried the ashes of the artist who used to live and work here, Saul Steinberg, and his lover Sigrid Spaeth, who, I have heard, killed herself by jumping from a building in Manhattan three years prior to Saul’s death in 1999.
Are these weird mushrooms related to the bodies in the ground through some kind of spooky below-the-earth network of spores?
Also, Saul’s old Chevy is on the property. The registration sticker in the window says 1978. There are old cages of some sort leaning up against the old car. I wonder: if I can get it started, will it take me back to 1978? Or 1864? 1996?
Am I going crazy writing in this house?
Can you at least tell me: WHAT KIND OF MUSHROOMS ARE THESE? Identify them in the comments using the numbers on each slide of this gallery. I thank you in advance.