Red Russula and Yellow Stropharia, commonly known as The Mushroom Girls, appear after the first Spring rains along the shore of Mystic Pond in central Brazil. They sprout up through the loam, fully clothed, with spongy flesh. It is a common Sunday pastime for the locals to perch on the terrace of the facing tearooms - watching the female apparitions glacially-glide along the shore - while sipping cachaca cocktails. Though benign in appearance, the girls' flesh exhudes a highly fatal poison when touched. Prompted by a dare, 14-year-old João de Miguel approached Yellow Stropharia one Sunday. He ever-so-gently brushed his fingertip against her left elbow. And that was it. Immediately, his vital organs began to shut down. He was rushed to the nearest clinic, but died on arrival. If only young João had paid heed to the warning signs surrounding the lake: LOOK - BUT DON'T TOUCH.
© BILL BLAIR 2012