I believe quite firmly, that humans and fungi have a lot in common. Delving deeply into my current writing project and taking time to savour the personalities of my characters; I can enjoy the subtle flavours of each as it develops.
The last two years I have ripped my way through nanowrimo, in sixth gear letting my mind do its thing, bringing in people from the subconscious and adding them to the pot of plot soup.
Not this year, there’s a sense of darkness and deepness that is foraging for fungi in the woods -further in like Red Riding Hood, secretly willing the wolf to appear.
As my life reveals over recent months the devious, selfish and festering minds of unfulfilled adults -reaching a maturity of age, yet not of soul -my heart grows cold towards them. They have become fly-infested mushrooms. There’s not much can be done about their existence, but it is a shame to think that a person can get so far in life and then go off.
The thing about fungi is you can’t always tell what’s edible and exactly at what point.
I’ve been foraging in the past -as a child with an Austrian woman who was a keen gardener and gatherer -she knew where to look for food in city parks and woods. She would explain very carefully to me how fungi worked under ground, how beautiful they were above (sometimes) and how dangerous they could be. Like people, she said.
“Mushrooms are like people, all kinds everywhere around you. They are at their best for a short time then they grow dark and deadly and fall apart. These purple ones are pretty, but they will make you sick. And you know the big red one is bad and you shouldn’t touch it.” she once told me.
She carried on,”This one is strong, growing out of the tree and this one here hiding under the bracken is playful -a big round ball begging to be kicked so it can spread its spores further. These are good to eat -at the right time of course.”
“Then there are the small ones, oh so similar to each other with inky caps or orange tendrils -it takes an expert to decide which are good for you and which will make you hallucinate”
And so the world of fungus has influenced my writing this season, quite aptly. Mushroom soup is my favourite, as are people despite the rot that sometimes sets in -I’ll never be turned off my soup.
Extract from The Edge (unedited)
As the pot of water bubbled on the stove, he turned down the heat and spooned in a large mound of finely ground coffee beans. Dark and rich, the smell was always comforting. He stirred whilst bringing the pot back to the boil. The coffee was ready – strong and dark and thick. There was a set of small cups and saucers on the shelf above the stove. Mirko took one down and placed it on the table, along with the coffee pot and a bowl of sugar cubes. He took a shot glass from the corner cupboard and pulled out a bottle of grape spirit. The table was almost set for the morning ritual,just the ashtray was missing.
Once everything was in place, Mirko opened the doors to the balcony and sat on the chair soaking in the heat of the morning sun. He loved mornings, especially when he was alone with time to think and not being hassled to have his breakfast. Coffee and spirit was a good breakfast he thought to himself. The sun shone into his dark eyes, darker than the black coffee by his side. Nothing penetrated his eyes, they were almost black. His face was slender, and his nose long and thin with curled nostrils that gave him a dismissive air.
He lit his cigarette and inhaled through his curly nostrils, sucking his cheeks in then releasing the smoke through his mouth. It felt good. It took the edge off a bad night’s sleep.
I think he’s the strong, edible kind…we’ll see.