01Nov ~ Context is everything 


If you missed my PixList EXTRA posting, you can find out how to pre-order “A Perfectly Ordinary Paradise” here.

This is a Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea), and one of them pops up every couple of years on the wooded part of our floodplain.  They are tasty, with a earthy scent, and safe to eat if they remain chalk-white inside—they begin yellowing when they are beyond edible.  I found a home for it where it can be enjoyed it, at the cost to Brawley Creek of several trillion spores, but with have a success rate of only 1 per trillion, and no particular likelihood that any of them would land anywhere nearby. One would think it would be better to make “just” a few hundred thousand (seven orders of magnitude fewer) and make them to have a better success rate.

That is a spectacular example of a common tradeoff. Among sexual species: the number of eggs produced, minus the number of progeny that fail to successfully reproduce, needs to average two—just two—that will maintain a stable population. The other trillions, the unsuccessful ones but are recycled, food for the rest of the ecosystem.  In the case of the Puffball spores, a substantial population of really tiny things.  But it works for them.

Puffballs really can’t be mistaken for anything else, toxic or not, when they reach these sizes.  It is a lot of flesh; this one is about the size of a volleyball, and it’s not the largest we’ve found. They are striking, looking something lie a gigantic egg laid amid the dead leaves on the wooded part of our flood plain, and they appear out of nowhere.

This one has had a troubled development in its short life.  It has divots of unexplained origin that put me in mind of a pocked moon.  So I used my photoshopic wiles to see what I could do to enlarge on that misperception.  I replaced its background with something suitable to misdirect the viewer’s sense of scale, I reduced its subtle, off-white color to something stark and “spaceous”, and enhanced the contrast.  Oh, and I made my copyright smaller than usual.

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