Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Hour of the Lynx

Francisco Goya, El sueño de la razón produce monstruos (The sleep of reason produces monsters) 1799.
"Poised alertly at Goya's feet is a lynx with pointed ears, an animal whose extraordinarily acute eyes allow it to pierce the darkness. Because of this quality the Spanish eighteenth-century dictionary gives as its common metaphoric use: 'el que tiene muy aguda la vista y gran perspicacia y sutileza para comprehender ó averiguar las cosas dificultosas' (one who has very keen vision and great sagacity and subtlety in understanding or in inquiring into very difficult matters)." – Eleanor A. Sayre

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Late bloomers

There was the faintest touch of frost on the grass this morning, and the temperature was hovering right around the freezing point when I arose. Still, the garden survived intact and by midday the thermometer was showing a rise of a good thirty degrees. The cold will be coming on, though, and in the last few weeks new outcroppings of fungi have appeared, to get their spores airborne before a killing frost shuts everything down for the year.

I don't harvest wild mushrooms, but I do enjoy photographing them. The best are exuberantly photogenic, and unlike some potential subjects they don't flit off annoyingly just when I get within camera-range. The giant puffballs below — the largest is basketball-size — have been dined upon liberally by some foraging mammal. The rest of the specimens were found on or around stumps or fallen trees, and no doubt have been hard at work at their invisible labor of decomposition deep within.

Update: Needless to say, not everyone is fond of mushrooms. A day or two after I took the photo of the giant puffballs someone gathered them all up and flung them into the bushes.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

The Mark of Ubu

What's-his-name, in the role of the original sociopath. "His poltroonery is only surpassed by his invincible avarice" (Macmillan's Magazine, 1897).

Poster by Iida Lanki, from 2013.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A Nursery of Pestilences

Thomas Hardy:
Up the sides of this depression grew sheaves of the common rush, and here and there a peculiar species of flag, the blades of which glistened in the emerging sun, like scythes. But the general aspect of the swamp was malignant. From its moist and poisonous coat seemed to be exhaled the essences of evil things in the earth, and in the waters under the earth. The fungi grew in all manner of positions from rotting leaves and tree stumps, some exhibiting to her listless gaze their clammy tops, others their oozing gills. Some were marked with great splotches, red as arterial blood, others were saffron yellow, and others tall and attenuated, with stems like macaroni. Some were leathery and of richest browns. The hollow seemed a nursery of pestilences small and great, in the immediate neighbourhood of comfort and health, and Bathsheba arose with a tremor at the thought of having passed the night on the brink of so dismal a place.
Far from the Madding Crowd