Thursday, October 7, 2010

Code of Silence

The Mushroom code of silence that is. It is THAT time of year, the time when the chantrelles and other edibles are poking their way thru the debris on the forest floor, pushing up through moss and leaves, sticks and rotting logs....and trying to avoid the humans who want them to eat.....Here in the valley and on the island (Vancouver Island) we are gifted with a large bounty in the woods. Everyone's getting them, talking about them but noone asks and noone tells WHERE. We all have our secret spots...and we're all trying to figure out where everyone else is getting them. It's a funny code...a friend was here and she was talking about drying her chanterelles.....and we were talking about canning ours....and neither of us asked each other WHERE. And when she was gone I was like "so, she lives on powerhouse, where would she be getting them around there....." (MAYBE I'm the only one with the CODE........)


So my mother calls yesterday, the wonderful funny wonky hunter-gatherer mother of mine who knows where A LOT of shrooms are, and announces IT'S TIME. The kids love mushroom hunting. First thing this morning out we go....for a short walk in a 'small patch'.
Yes that's my 70 year old mother with two false hips heading off thru the underbrush.....


And soon we spot some "Lobster" mushrooms. They are quite spectacularly reddy orange, dense and large. She knows where a couple of patches are....


Of course the boys found a Salamander which was running for it's life at this point....


We found so many types of mushrooms.....
The day was so beautiful, it felt like we were walking in fairyland....

And my mum was scaring me a bit....."I think these are edible, I'll check when we get home...."
The colors, the shapes, the sizes! We sure went on the right day!
I have to admit - I didn't read the chapter on "gathering" in Michael Polan's book....been there, done that...my whole life....
Camping =Mushroom hunting for my mum and the boys.....

A tiny fairy ring....they were sooo small and soooo delicate....

August carefully cutting a lobster out of the ground....
The small ecosystem on top of the stump of a log...Notice the leafy plant in the bottom left corner, it was sooo beautiful!
Bingo! A Chantrelle! We have to carefully cut the mushrooms and leave the base - they regrow and the life cycle goes on. If the whole mushroom is pulled up the patch is dead. Which is the main reason everyone keeps their lips sealed - they don't want an mushroom hunter who doesn't know destroying the patch......

These big babies are "hosts" to the parasite "lobster" mushroom, so my mum had the boys carrying a rotten lobster around to "infect" them for next year. How does she know these things?

A big guy, lots of these out in the woods....
Woo hoo everyone found a few!

But I messed up. Our "short" walk was a little long and too close to lunchtime. The youngest two had had enough.....
The boys chanted all the way home "we're hungry we're hungry!" Silly me, how could I head out with no food and no water???? I have to admit I got a little grumpy with them as I saw so many more spots I wanted to check out.....Ah well, next week....
We had fried mushrooms for dinner! Yum!
Tomorrow, NO FAIL STEW loaded with shrooms.....and my boys fight over them....

3 comments:

Jane said...

I would love to know which mushrooms are which. How cool

The Gingerbread House said...

I too wish I knew which was which! Your Mom is a treasure. Make sure you learn everything about picking the right ones that you can ..and pass it on to the children...She could hold a class on that...wish I knew where to start to find a class like that one. Ginny

Dana said...

Ooh how fun! My grandpa used to go mushroom hunting, but I'm convinced I'll poison myself. I just found out that a nature park not too far from us has a mushroom hunting day every year, though, and for like $10 you go out with one of the rangers and they show you what to look for. I forget which kind of mushrooms you're hunting for, but that sounded like a safe way to get started!