Monday, June 29, 2015

Nature's Spirograph

Maybe you remember the Spirograph -- a set of interlocking gear wheels and pens that allowed youth to create highly engineered Space-Age designs, mostly circles -- or you recall cutting designs into potatoes and inking the cut edges with a roller inked on a sheet of glass, and then printing the result -- did that in Girl Scouts. And while I haven't done those since, I did pluck the cap from a bolete and placed the cap gills down where a sheet of white paper and a sheet of black paper met, and left it undisturbed overnight -- because spores of unidentified 'shrooms could be light or dark, and the spore print, and its color, and the shapes of the spores themselves, are crucial to a solid I.D., especially for summer mushrooms that have many variants: amanitas, russulas, and then boletes. All of you will know a bolete when you see one. They don't have bladelike gills beneath their caps but have spongelike undersides. The print came out beautifully, the best one yet. It is art. Meanwhile, the cap, on the right, dried out a little. A friend saw the photo and said, "Is that a toasted bagel?"

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