outdoors · slice of life


I was minding my own business this afternoon, just taking the trash outside to the garbage can. On my jaunt back to the front door, I noticed two oddly shaped, orange “carrots” were sticking out of the mulch in front of our house. I whipped my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo of each one giving a shudder after taking the second picture. They were disgusting.

Once inside, I flashed my phone towards Marc and asked, “Have you noticed these outside?”

“What is that?” he spat.

“I have no idea, but they’re kind of terrifying!” I replied.

Marc zoomed in on the images and shook his head.

“I can pull it out,” he offered.

“No, I can do it,” I said, wanting to take one for the team.

“You might want to wear a gardening glove,” he suggested.

I reached under the sink and grabbed one of the latex gloves from the box I keep there (for chicken prep). “Gardening glove? Not a chance! I’m using one of these disposable gloves.” He nodded knowingly. “Would you grab me a couple of plastic bags so we can throw out whatever it is in the outside garbage can?”

Marc grabbed the bags while I donned the glove. The two of us walked to the front door where I muttered, “Buy a home, he said. It’ll be fun, he said. You know… this wouldn’t be happening now if we lived in an apartment!” Marc snickered. He’s heard a similar refrain out of me any time something has gone wrong since we became homeowners a dozen years ago.

Once outside, I grabbed the first orange horn and pulled it out of the ground. “Yuck!” I declared as I tossed it into the double bag. I smoothed the mulch around so as to cover up the hole that was left. Then I made my way to the second one, but when I reached for it, the horn snapped like a piece of cheap foam pool noodle. That’s when I had to use my gloved hand to feel for the bottom of the horn to grab it out from the base. Once I got there, I trashed the carrot-like pieces in the bags Marc was holding, but discovered something just as gross beneath the surface: several brown mushrooms!

“Ugh! Yuck. There’s more down here. YUCK YUCK YUCK!” (I may have used the f-word. Who can remember?)

Marc had some kind of quip, but I was too grossed out to recall it. He tied up the bag that I filled with detritus and pitched it in the outside garbage can. I removed the glove, turning it inside out, and pitched that too. (I may have shuddered again.)

Hours later, I was deleting photos from the day from my phone. That’s when I realized I never looked up what those “carrots” was. A search of orange fungus in mulch led me to several pages on stinkhorns, which are a fungus. Apparently, besides looking gross, they smell bad! (Thankfully, I must’ve been too grossed out to breathe normally so I never got a whiff!) There’s also no solution for them so — they could be back!

All I know is that I’m here rethinking home ownership yet again!

Head over to Two Writing Teachers for more slice of life stories.

16 thoughts on “Stinkhorns

  1. I’m giggling a little up here in Ottawa. You were completely disgusted and I… zoomed in on the pictures, clicked on the link, and contemplated the utter coolness of fungi, even going so far as to read up about them. While I can’t say that I’d want a truly stinky fungus in my yard, I don’t think I’d be quite as grossed out as you were. At least you know that someone out here is glad you took the pictures!

  2. I’ve seen quite a few photos like this pop up on social media lately. The stinkhorns seem to be surprising a lot of people this year. Love the yucks that may have been the f word. So many joys that come with owning a home!

    1. Oh yes, the joys are endless! (Can you feel the sarcasm? That’s because the washing machine repair man to come for a fifth time in three months. The washing machine just turned two LAST WEEK!)

  3. So many fungus around in New England that 2 years ago, I gave an impromptu information writing lesson in a classroom using no more than the photos of fungus I had accumulated on my phone. My latest home woe is mice. One of which took up residence in my rather new car and dropped into the cabin for a visit when I least expected it. When would I have expected it? This sounds like a slice. Good luck. Those stinkhorns will definitely come back. There’s more underground that above.

  4. I have to agree with Amanda. I don’t think I’d have been so grossed out. Fungi are fascinating. But the story was funny. I can just imagine you picking them and saying the F-word. I’m amazed that you didn’t smell them. I wonder how strong the scent is? Nature is disgusting and intriguing.

  5. Ah yes. Owning a home is one new learning after another, no matter how long you have owned the home. We have been here 35 years and new things and experiences still pop up. However, I can’t imagine not owning our own home.
    Once again, Stacey, thanks for you help with my issue. Had no problem at all today getting into the site.

  6. Eeeesh! What a seasonally creepy-orange experience, Stacey! I look around me at all the little repairs that need to be done and have been wondering the very same thing about home ownership…

  7. Stacey, though I empathize with you, this did make me laugh. I can think of a million similar examples of home owning. Yuck! So much to deal with ALL THE TIME!!! It looks like you’ve won this battle for this year. Next year….hmmm…..

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