Friday, 09 October 2015 00:19

Writing Fascinations - More Everyday Aliens

In keeping with a creepy Halloween theme, I'm writing about one of my favorite hobbies.

I've long had a fascination for strange life forms, among them mushrooms, lichen and slime. (Whenever I tell people this I feel like Egon in Ghost Busters who confessed his hobby was 'spores, molds and fungus'.)  

The substance in the photo above is Tapioca Slime, a type of slime mold. This stuff oozes up out of the ground almost every spring somewhere in my garden, sometimes in small patches, occasionally in huge clumps.

The first time I saw it I thought a head a cauliflower was somehow pushing directly up out of the soil. It was pure white with a curd-like surface, but when I touched it, I found it more liquid than solid, softer than whipped cream in fact.

Now here is the truly amazing thing and why this organism tops my list of fascinating life forms. For the first 24 hours after it emerges, slime has no cell walls and can move.

That's right, move. Not just spread by growing in a certain direction but actually ooze along the ground.

It does this by a process called protoplasmic streaming, (even the name is cool!) the same way amoebas get around. After 24 hours however a crust forms over the top of the mass putting an end to its travels.

Fascinations can be great things to write about. I always wanted to write a story drawing on my fascination for fungi but every time I dismissed the idea - who would want to read about that. Then Dean Koontz (a true kindred spirit) came out with his novel, The Taking, in which he did exactly that.

Lessons learned:

1. Trust your creative urges even when you can't see where they will lead you. You don't have to know why something resonates for you, the simple fact it does means there's something there to explore. At the very least you'll enjoy yourself.

And 2: It's not the idea, it's what you do with it.

Published in Personal interest