The fungus among us

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 9:30am

On Saturday, Dec. 7, author and mycologist Lawrence Millman will be walking and talking fungi right here on Block Island. First, a walk at 11 a.m. through the Boy Scout Camp. (Upper Connecticut Avenue. Park and meet at the Neptune House.)

“Mushrooms at this time of year?” you may be thinking skeptically, but Millman has assured us: fungi will be found. And then at 4 p.m., Millman will be fireside at the Island Free Library, speaking and reading from his book “Fungipedia.”

“Fungipedia: A Brief Compendium of Mushroom Lore” is a charming A-to-Z book of all things fungi. From Aksakov’s “Remarks and Observations of a Mushroom Hunter,” and “Alice In Wonderland” to yeast and zombie ants, Millman offers over 180 entries filled with tid-bits of information about fungi and their relation to Earth’s ecosystems and human endeavors. Each entry is relatively short but packed with information as varied as fungi itself. One moment you are reading about spore dispersal, in the next moments you are reading about the positive and negative uses of fungi, mycologists past and present, and before you know it, your attention has been shifted to the connection between fungi and Santa Claus. And as if all the interesting information was not enough, the book is also infused with humor and wit.

Millman has explored the world studying fungi. His travels have taken him from his own New England backyard in Cambridge, Mass., to such diverse places as Greenland, Siberia, Bermuda, Panama and Honduras; he should also be considered an adventurer.

These programs are a rare Block Island opportunity, and one not to be missed. In case of poor weather for walking on Saturday, the walk will be rescheduled to Sunday, Dec. 8 at 11 a.m. The reading and book signing will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m. regardless of weather.

For a preview of the book, cut and paste this link:

This two-part program is presented with thanks to Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Friends of the Island Free Library, and the Island Free Library.