This morning I happened across a photo of a clump of Marasmius mushrooms in my /Home directory. I was puzzled; I knew it wasn’t one of my photos, as none of the local Marasmius species are that large and fleshy. The Marasmius species in this area tend to be small woodland mushrooms with wiry stems.
The title of the image file is “marasmius_elegans.jpg”. I typed the species name into a Google search box and the first result was a Wikipedia page:
I clicked on the link, and there was the exact same photo accompanying the article. I must have downloaded it and forgotten about it. I loaded my local copy of the image file into the Gimp image-processing program and zoomed in to one area that looked interesting. I cropped a portion and was struck by the texture of the cap of the Australian species, which grows in eucalypt forests. It looks like a view of the surface of a planet with dewdrops incongruously clinging to it:
Imagine that the orange planet has a thin and unbreathable atmosphere, and the dewdrops are crystalline domes, pressurized cities full of bustling and optimistic pioneers…