People ask how I, a former high-fashion promoter, became interested in wild mushrooms to the point of making this book. It was pure accident; while walking by the neighbouring monastery one fine day, I spied, projecting from its lawn, what seemed to be the five fat fingers of a buried hand! Gloved, moreover, in shag! The fact that shag-gloved gestures from the grave came to mind rather than the immediate recognition of young Shaggy-Mane Mushrooms (the most common of our edible wild fungi) indicates the extent of my then fashion orientation and the totality of my mycological ignorance.

A little research disclosed not only their identity but also that they were good to eat; however, on cutting them open in culinary preparation, I experienced an epiphany! Never had I seen anything more beautiful, their baby gills were pink as a peony petal, lustrous as the interior of a shell, they demanded to be painted, not cooked! Later, on being refrigerated for further observation, these angelic apparitions vanished overnight, leaving behind nothing but blobs of black ink.

Obviously there were "more things in Heaven and Earth than one dreams of" in my meagre experience; it would seem that in the fungal bod resided processes not found in plant or animal, a fact recognized by the earliest peoples of the woods, all of whom knew that mushrooms were supernatural beings, begot at midnight by the sexual union of a bolt of lightning and Mother Earth! How else to explain the overnight mushrooming of mushrump multitudes in the wake of a big storm, when not a single individual amongst them possessed roots, seeds or any discernible (to the unaided eye) means of reproduction?"

In publication, Page 11: "Reflections on the Fungaloids" by B.L. Williamson, Ottawa, 1992. ISBN 1-894572-65-3


  • Title: Toad
  • Creator: Williamson, Beatrice L.
  • Physical Dimensions: 24.8cm x 19.8 cm
  • Type: Artwork
  • Rights: © Canadian Museum of Nature / Musée canadien de la nature
  • Medium: Watercolour and gouache over graphite on card

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