Mushrooming is a reason to connect with the environment in a very purposeful and real sense. There's the expected pleasure of the cooking and the eating. And then there's the poetry of their names. Rusty Wood Rotter, Woolly Milk Cap, Bare-Toothed Russula, Bulbous Honey Fungus... Beguling, huh? How could a poet resist? And then, of course, the frisson of the danger of misidentification. Ross, Fergus, Andrew, Sandra, Ali... Which name is the right name? Which of their bodies is poisonous?
I don't advocate the taking of drugs, but in 1990 I took magic mushrooms in Leeds with some friends from university. It was night-time and we all walked out into the city. The intoxication felt purging, and a return to an irrational, playful realm where inanimate objects seemed energised - trees became friendly and church towers became sinister, stretching up into the universe (my recent visit to the J.S.Lowry exhibition at Nottingham Lakeside reminded me of this). A playground became our elysian fields.