The largest living organism on earth…….

What on earth am I talking about, I can hearing you all thinking…..? Well, what a wonderful trundle I had last week and I didn’t realise this amazing organism existed until I met a lovely person from my village, Pip.

Pip had often liked my photos on the village Facebook page and one day she put up some of her own, of the fungi she’d seen and I was mesmerised by their beauty and wondered why I hadn’t seen them on my trundles. Pip messaged me to ask if I’d like to take a trundle with her for her to reveal this wonderful hidden world to my eyes and I jumped at the chance. What also sold it to me, was the fact that Scooby her Collie Dog would be coming with us 🥰…..😂

Pips mum had Parkinson’s and developed dementia. Her mum was a writer and apparently they came to see a talk I gave about my book and to my surprise Pip produced a lovely photo to prove it

I set off up along the snicket to meet her at the gates. I was a few minutes early so wandered round the churchyard, spying a squirrel watching me, watching him.

I’d never met her before, but as I approach our agreed meeting place , I saw her smiley face and felt immediately comfortable and safe. Her mum died not too long ago and I could see the sadness still naturally there in her eyes even through her smile …and, of course, I immediately fell in love with Scooby 

Pip said we’d start off in the Churchyard…..”I’ve just been round there, and I didn’t see any 😳”……but Pips eyes were tuned into the undergrowth and it only took her a minute to find the first, the second, the third and more …and I’d followed the exact same route, passing them by. Such small individual specimens, camaflaged by the fallen leaves. Some fungi are around all year but Autumn is when most appear, sheltered and hidden by the falling leaves.

It was then I understood I had to look at the surroundings differently, through Pips eyes. We headed along the back lane towards the playing fields, behind which stands a wooden area with amazing ancient trees. It’s often where the children make dens out of branches discarded on the ground

So many different types, 

different shapes

Smokey Bracket

many looking like coral from the sea

Coral Fungi

Pip then stopped at the ‘Mother Tree’….must have been 5-600 years old, but was dying so had the most stunning fungi hugging it’s ancient bark, making it’s demise look beautiful rather than sad….Pip wrote on one particular fungi with the tip of a feather telling me it was called ‘Artist’s Bracket’….the words will eventually fade, for more words to be written..you might be able to make out the faded script of ‘Mi Madre’, where she’d written before…❤️

Artist’s Bracket

All the while Scooby was leading us, turning round occasionally to make sure his herd were following and happy that we threw sticks once in a while for him to chase after..

Some have a milky sap appear from their coral like veins. So many are coral like without the colour but with a individual beauty all of their own

Mild Milk Cap

I began to feel worried about treading on them until Pip told me how the fungi were purely the fruits, like apples on a tree. 

The Mycelium is the real living organism. The fungus has a huge network of roots, called mycellia, that permeate below the ground of the forest….… and the ‘fruits’ or fungi sprout up from the veins that lie beneath the ground.. One was found in America that was 4 square miles, bigger than the Blue Whale, earths largest mammal.

I wish the photo of the Puff balls had come out, along with Dead Mans Finger…but sadly they were too blurred🙄…as Pip gently squeezed the Puff Balls, wisps of smoke, almost like your own breathe on a winters morning, appeared….so unexpected.

Some were rubbery in texture, able to cling to their new found home better

Hairy Curtain Crust

Other, orange trumpets, rising from the leaf mulched ground beneath.

Tawny Funnel…

Scooby led us through the brambles and hanging branches where ‘ear like’ fungi sat perched on Elder

Jelly Ear

And fungi growing on fungi…..

I was beginning to flag a tad as we came to the end of the wood….I’d lost all track of time, having forgotten my phone so was quite astonished and a tad confused as the sun was beginning to set

We’d ambled, chatted and laughed for over 2 hours about her mum, memories, anything and everything. I could feel the sadness in her voice, but a contentness as well as she was doing what she loved most and I was sharing that experience with her. 

Wandering amongst the undergrowth, where I’d never thought to look before, a whole new world appeared right beneath my feet, that I’d never taken much notice of before, not because I didn’t like it, I just hadn’t known it was there. Pip told me sooo many things, facts and information about fungi, trees and nature I never knew before, and even though most were quickly forgotten just to know them for a few fleeting moments was enough.

I suddenly came over totally exhausted and sadly had to say I’d had enough

As we said our goodbyes, the sun just beginning to set, we saw the stunning sight of a white barn owl in full flight, soaring high in the sky, the setting sun’s rays lighting up it’s wings …. …and as Pip said in a piece she posted later:

“’That’s Mum‘ I said. ‘Oh most definitely’ Wendy replied.

Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou Wendy. I felt more useful and happy today than I have in a long time. ❤️”

I’ve always be of the mind, that when someone close dies and they become a memory, that you should scoop up all the nice thoughts and memories and lock them in a treasure box. Every now and then, open the box and the light will shine will all those lovely thoughts and smiles. But never keep it open for good as the memories float around and the mourning continues unabated. Keep it locked, live your life and when the need arises unlock the key to relive them once more. That way you keep your loved one happy and their memories safe as they will always be with you and want to share your highs and lows and they will always show their presence in some way, some people see them others don’t….for me they manifest in my faithful Robins…..

And I trundled home totally exhausted, but utterly content with the adventure I’d just had….

One last photo before my camera too gave up “battery exhausted” just like mine…

About wendy7713

On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget. I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition. What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.

31 thoughts on “The largest living organism on earth…….

  1. Wiin-win situation with both of you benefiting from the walk (sorry, 3 of you.. include Scooby)

    fascinating. Fungi easily missed. In times past we have gathered edible fungi.. but need to be cautious. We used to check in about 6 books to be sure edible until we came to know them. Our garden now has some wonderful orange fungi on a tree stump.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Wendy, what a lovely day you had. I lost my mum four and a half years ago and I’ve found it hard. She didn’t have dementia, and lived to 94, my mum yes, but also my best friend. Your words about a treasure box for memories makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to get out my dictionary to look up “snicket” because that’s a word that we don’t use in this part of Canada but I have now incorporated it into my vocabulary. We had lots of fungi here during the summer and I was surprised, like you, at the many shapes, colours and sizes. Thanks for sharing your walk, Wendy. I think that you keep a lot of people comforted and inspired at this dark time. I certainly feel inspired to get out for a walk myself!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh Wendy, your words about the treasure box are so true. They made me cry but in a good way and I am now going to copy them into my journal as they mean so much, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved reading this. I will certainly look at the world around me more carefully to see all the wonderful things you described so well.I also love your advice about a “treasure box” Thank you for your posts and photos of Walkington xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Fantastic, Wendy. Chris Packham did a feature on fungi on Autumnwatch and, like you, I was astounded by the size of the mycelia. How marvellous to have someone so knowledgeable to share the knowledge with you, and I’m sure you helped Pip as much as she helped you. Love the bit about the barn owl – magic!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wendy, what a wonderful walk, and two fantastic new friends in Pip and Scooby! Thank you so much for those wonderful photos too, which illustrate your account so perfectly!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Wendy fascinating. I’ve noticed on a couple of sites I follow amazing examples of fungi. I like you have had a keener eye now for looking beyond what I see in the undergrowth.
    I was particularly moved by your referral to “memory box” of loved ones lost. Lovely and so true. I realised that this is something I have done over the years as lost my dear Mum 38 years ago. Now and again and I cannot always say what leads me to it I open my box of memories, often shed a tear too. Our loved ones live on through our memories.
    Thank you Wendy so moved by today’s blog. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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