There once was a woman who had a habit of picking up everything she saw lying around in streets, on the trees, and in the yards. Because she was on a bike and because she had ‘velcro eyes’, nothing–well nearly nothing–escaped her gaze.
The bicycle she rode was a spinster special–rugged green Raleigh with double wire baskets in the back and a wicker one up front.
This fifty pound machine was probably built in the fifties after the war.
She loaded the bicycle down with clothes. She gathered rags. Food. Bags. Tools. Coins. More towels than she knew what to do with. Bills. Paper. Once, an envelope full of paper money. Plastic flowers.
But most of all she collected orphan fruits and vegetables. The untouchables, the forgotten left d’oeuvres were taken in (literally!) by the sympathic old bat, a mad soul who just couldn’t believe anyone would pitch that Perfectly Fine Pineapple, not even a bruise on it.
She’d brush it off, shove it in her pannier, and remount the bike and steer for home. “Taj Mahovel” (the home of the woman) was a squalid little shack with piles of provender obscuring the kitchen table, counter tops, yea verily unto the In-Between Room with its puny Swedish Asko “tvattmaskine” (Swedish for washing machine).
Upon return, even she could detect a distinctly fetid air, combining rot and growth and maybe even the lingering reminder that Rodents Once Roamed Here… this impressioin only vanished when a cake was in the oven, in which case the place smelled delicious.
Well one day this forager stumbled upon a mushroom that was NOT an orphan, in fact, it was happily fruiting above the vast mycelium that is the real bigger subterranean part of a mushroom…and the woman exclaimed with glee, “Oh, goody, a Boletus, a nice huge red one …never seen one of those before…all the boletes are edible, seems to me…” and with a rude yank the largish, barely protesting mushroom that Wasn’t An Orphan but was about to become Dinner was borne away…
And verily, though the dying shroom showed brilliant blue upon being sliced, and indeed this was well documented by the woman, the common sense that abides in this old bat’s cerebellum about 75% of the time
seems to have taken an extended break.
And oh the gnashing of gastric muscles and the copious drooling accompanying emesis, yea, verily, it was pretty damn awful: almost like the stomach had turned itself inside out.
Bad enough to require schleppage, rather than pedalage to the nearest ER, a mere 4 miles away. My kind neighbor drove me since CC was fast asleep (it was 9:25 pm, nearly half an hour after bedtime!)
The evening passed wired up to funny drips and the blood pressure it did gyre and gimble on the screen, and beeps and blips did punctuate the still of the humming hospital. Finally the 23 b.p.m. heart rate was coaxed up, and the electrolyte balance restored from a precarious low, and all returned to ‘normal’.
The crew in attendance were all most gracious. They somehow already knew of the forager’s Other Life. Indeed, the presiding doctor himself murmured that he was a big mountain bicycler ( a trim gut gave it away– and the outline of fit-like legs within those baggy old scrubs).
But at long last, everything returned to normal, there weren’t even N.E. decent hallucinations for all that trouble and strife. At two a.m. the forager was set free to take a taxi home, after signing an agreement not to undertake any more suicidal culinary gestures.
But the big lesson the scavenger woman took home was: Steal not the organisms from their abode, but stick to the tame shroom-orphans in the Back Door Catering CO. who really need the rescue.