I know this blog doesn't normally concern itself with flora and fauna (although, back in December 2010, I did eulogise about pineapple sage and fields of lavender.) So allow me a little digression from the usual fare of books, music and time travel to marvel at something closer to home. A few weeks ago, my wife Sue noticed a couple of striking-looking fungi growing in our garden. These handsome specimens looked like something that might be found growing in the shade of The Magic Faraway Tree (though I wouldn't want to suggest they were that kind of mushroom.)
The problem was even our Big Book of Nature didn't seem to know what kind if fungi they were either. So after a bit of googling, I emailed a chap called Pat O'Reilly. Pat works at First Nature and what he doesn't know about fungi isn't worth knowing. Pat kindly got back to me immediately saying he believed they were stropharia caerulea. His webpage http://www.first-nature.com/fungi/stropharia-caerulea.php explains these are one of very few blue-green fungi and that they also go under the beguiling name of Blue Roundheads.
... And no sooner was this confirmed then the blue began to fade and the bell-like caps began to flatten so that, now, you wouldn't give them a second glance, their pale wateriness blending in unremarkably with the leaf litter of a soggy mid-November. So it is, I suppose, that all that is vivid, vivacious and attractive in nature withers and pales with time, a reminder we must relish the momentary splendour of life and celebrate beauty and joy wherever and whenever it may take us by surprise.