一开始很无辜. 大雨后在奥克兰树林里的徒步旅行. The ground still wet, the dense foliage sated and glistening. She hiked for exercise, to meditate, to escape the demands of a job in graphic design. 这是一种例行公事,一种愉快的充电方式.

但是,真菌! 这是一个开始,一个入口. 突然, 她注意到经常跌跤, 还有, 还有–as any of us might do in our own yards: mushrooms. The kind we, and even our pets, sense would kill us with one bite. Yes, my cousin, Lauren, noticed the fungi before anything else. Sprouting up overnight, matted in the dirt, tangled in the weeds, clinging to bark. Varying in placement, infinite in color, size and shape. The more she looked, the more she saw, a modern day Thoreau peering into a seemingly bottomless pond. 真菌. 橙色和红色, 斑点和条纹, 头重脚轻, 集群和孤独的, 他们都在叫她, 她用敬畏和她的相机回应. Obsessed, evangelical, her images were stunning, her enthusiasm contagious.

And yet, this was only a prelude to something deeper, something both smaller and far more vast. 比如《不可思议的收缩人》, whose profundity grew as he shrank and ultimately merged with the universe. 尽管它们很美, 他们无尽的摄影潜力, 真菌是离散的, 有限制, 寻找他们心爱的人, 但独立的, 爱好. 黏液霉菌,那就不一样了. 那是一种激情. 这是爱. 这就是生命的意义.

我的表妹和我就像姐妹一样. I’m three years older, perfect for corrupting her early, which I did. 我教她逃课, 伪造签名, 尤其是男孩, 在父母发现365安卓官方app下载失踪之前把她引入歧途. 但她教会了我一些东西, too: about driving ninety miles an hour in the Hollywood Hills, 关于抽低焦油香烟, about the possible side effects of immersion in another culture. 在巴黎呆了几个月之后, 她回来时不能(或不愿意)说英语, requiring me to rely on my high school French to communicate with her.

更重要的是, 然而, 劳伦教会了我自然, 这种欣赏始于她童年的家庭. Both of our dads were physicians, but hers was also a naturalist, her house a kind of urban zoo. In the backyard was a giant tortoise so big you could ride him, although I never did. 这个小房间是一个专门的水族馆, with built-in viewing spots for my uncle’s rare collection—vipers, 狮子鱼, 来自亚马逊的毒箭蛙是最奇异的物种之一.  遗憾的是,他们中的一些人没能成功. 但都没有浪费. In the guest bathroom medicine cabinet were jars filled with the pickled unlucky, 如果你碰巧是在找阿司匹林,那就太惊喜了.

我肯定周围还有其他不寻常的宠物. No animal living at my cousin’s was mundane–even the dog. Duchess was her name, and she looked and acted the part: lithe and regal, a descendant of royalty. 所以当她发情的时候, my aunt celebrated the bitch with a wedding and a canine gown that would put “Say Yes to the Dress” to shame.

当她女儿还小的时候, 劳伦追随她父亲的脚步, 养着一群老鼠, 老鼠, 捕食的螳螂和蟋蟀足够养活一支军队. Today, 然而, she only has a cat, to which I’m deathly allergic. She likes dogs, although, maybe because of Duchess, not enough to own one. 此外, 因为她讨厌不同物种间的交往, she nearly pukes seeing me swap spit with my collie and two rescues—something to do with what occurs on the molecular level.  但黏液. 粘液就是另一回事了.

“First,” my cousin says, “slime molds aren’t mold at all. They may seem more closely related to animals than fungi if you see them in their creeping phase. Because they’re so unlike anything else, science has found slime mold difficult to classify. They transform dramatically during their life cycle going from an on-the-move feeding phase to a fixed reproductive phase. Some of the fruiting bodies I witnessed through my close-up lens were stunningly alien and beautiful; pink elongated jelly beans on stalks, 模糊了最快, 几何间距的虹彩球体, 细小的蓝莓挂在细线上.”

也, 虽然它们只是单细胞的, 像变形虫, slime mold change form and possess striking intelligence. 事实上, 他们能解迷宫, 高效地优化信息, that scientists are studying them in connection with research on transport systems. 所有这些都来自于最小的实体, 可以与“灰尘”相混淆的东西, 狗的呕吐物或虫卵.”

他们也可能唯利是图. 取 Badhamia utricularis, for example, a slime mold predator that “feeds on the poor fungi unable to make a run for it.” It may in fact be the slime mold’s superiority to the fungi (at least in this case) that is partly behind Lauren’s fascination with the creature. 并不是说她放弃了她的初恋, 在他们所有奇妙的荣耀中, 会在她心中占有一席之地吗. 但黏液 mold may lead us to more answers about our own existence. 这对于像我表弟这样的人来说,真是令人垂头丧气.

看到, 劳伦是个无神论者, who believes that while there’s currently a limit to scientific explanation, 这是最终科学, 不是一个神, 这更有可能告诉365安卓官方app下载365安卓官方app下载是谁. So slime mold, being part animal as well as plant, is a closer model. 根据自然作家Adele Conover的说法, even though in some ways slime molds are “like aliens from another planet,” they can help us understand our bodies as “great aggregations of once separate and independent organisms,隐喻为“公社”.(史密森尼杂志,2001年3月, 狩猎黏菌.换句话说, we might have more in common with slime mold than with fungi, and thus the knowledge acquired from them is  more relevant.

但是黏菌对我有什么用呢? I’m non-committal, indecisive, one of those pesky agnostics. 科学是科学. The earth is round, climate change is real, vaccinations work. Yet somewhere in me is a space all that data can’t fill, a space I cherish. 称之为幻想,超自然,阴影. 这就是神秘之处, a space that lets me believe that my deceased grandmother helps find my constantly missing eyeglasses. 我希望我所希望的一切都是真的, 去创造我自己的世界, 对抗绝望.

“你怎样才能摆脱这种疯狂呢??劳伦最近问我. She meant politics, madness being the code word for the person whose name we refuse to utter. 我该怎么办? 我是个作家,所以我告诉她我在等退稿通知. “你是做什么的??” I said, already knowing the (slimy) answer by her adoring tone.

但也许我太草率了. 也许 slime mold is more than its name, more than the sum of its parts. 也许是因为它能在混乱中茁壮成长, 超越世俗的关注, 它超出了它的分类, 成为我认为神圣的秘密的一部分.

也许. 但也有可能我只是嫉妒. 就像当年我表弟得到帅哥的时候. It could be that I’ll never be into slime mold because it’s just not that into me. At the very least, I wonder if she’s thought this relationship through . I warn her that she might get hurt, that the slime might overtake  her, like the Blob. But she waves me off, heading straight for the woods, certain that the romance will last.

Ona罗素 is the author of three award-winning historical mysteries and has been published in a variety of other venues, 包括之前的《365app下载手机版. Ona holds a PhD in literature from UC San Diego, where she also taught for many years. She considers herself a Philadelphian once removed—her mother was born there, 她哥哥住在纳伯斯, 还有她的叔祖父, 建筑师路易斯我. 卡恩,跟这座城市有点关系. 欲了解更多信息,请访问 onarussell.com.