Thoreau has a habit of bringing interesting things home from his walks the better to observe them. Twigs, fungi, animals (which he usually releases).  Two examples of his fungus-gathering made me laugh. This one, he takes out into the village, like parading a new dog, for the neighbours to see.

And I love that question, which he asks more than once: what part does it play in the economy of the world?  What part do any of us play?

And see what he has to say about Nature’s invention of another fungus, that reeked out his house.

‘What part does it play in the economy of the world?  I have just been out (7.30 a.m.) to show my fungus.  The milkman and the butcher followed me to inquire what it was, and children and young ladies addressed me in the street who never spoke to me before …. In hell, toadstools should be represented as overshadowing men.’   18 June 1853

Source: Henry David Thoreau, The Journal 1837-1861, Damion Searls (ed.), preface by John R. Stilgoe (New York: New York Review Books, 2009), p. 213-14

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