Wednesday, August 29, 2007

walk with me wed, and bring a mycologist

I woke up this morning to fog. Most mornings have been foggy...we are having fog season again. The recent rains and humid weather have kept things in the woods moist. The mushrooms have sprouted.

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We can go into the woods and I will show you where they grow, but don't tell anyone where the mushroom patch is. Next thing you know, there won't be any mushrooms left. These mushrooms grow here every year. I know, I come and visit them.

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I wish I knew more about mushrooms and fungi, I am a novice, and only know a few of them. Oh sure, I have a field guide, but not a human one. I have never met a dedicated mycologist who can tell me about the ones that are safe to eat.

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When I asked a neighbor if the mushrooms were safe to eat, he told me to feed some to the cat, and if the cat didn't get ill, then I could eat them the next day. I don't think I will do that.

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My grandfather, I am told, used to cook them with a copper penny. I imagine this is similar to the folklore of cooking with a silver spoon. Nature knows not the rules of men. I don't think I will risk indigestion or worse, just for the sake of the tasty bits. It only takes a half a teaspoon of a deadly shroom do you in... so call me a fungophobic if you will, better to be safe than sorry.

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There is beauty in fungi.

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'There are plenty of old mushroom hunters and plenty of bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.'


Sue said...

Great pictures! You may already know this, but the white one in the third picture is Indian Pipes, which isn't a fungus at all, it's a non-photosynthetic flowering plant in the blueberry family. It's parasitic on the mycorhizal fungus of tree roots. I'e always thought that was very cool. And they are so beautifully photogenic, aren't they?

cyndy said...

Well, I knew it was an Indian Pipe, but I didn't know that it was in the blueberry family!! And I did know that it wasn't fungus, but didn't know it was parasitic!! So thanks for filling in the blanks...they are so very unique to see, esp. when they are fresh.

elizabeth said...

Gosh darn it, Sue beat me to it in indentifying the Indian Pipe! But you knew it already. I accidentally found them when I stopped to tie my boots in the Smokies - it was the coolest thing I saw all day! Love some shrooms, I do. I'm always taking pictures of them and am sad when I see them upturned (careless hikers or dogs).

Beth S. said...

Ha ha! That's a very funny saying. :-)

You know, in Russia they call mushrooms "the second bread" because they are such a staple. I find that really charming. They take their mushroom-gathering very seriously, or used to, anyway.

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

Those are gorgeous mushroom specimens! I'd be skeptic about harvesting though too.

Lorraine said...

Beatrix Potter was an amateur mycologist (as I found out when I read her biography recently). She would drool over the lovely photos, since she spent many hours drawing fungi.


pablo said...

Wow, the colors in these photos are astonishing!

(If I got down that low to take pictures, not only would I never get back up, but the chiggers would devour me!)

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elise said...

I'm reading a book about a woman who bought an old olive farm in the south of France and it said that they could pick mushrooms and then bring them to the local pharmacist who would identify them and let them know if they were edible or not.

Sandra said...

Beautiful photos! Dave and I went morel hunting this spring and found about two pounds. Our friends went the next day and found five pounds.

Vladka said...

Hallo from Czech Republic. We often pick mushrooms but they are very different from yours. We cook soups, sauces of it, fried it, treat it in vinegar with vegetables and spice, etc. It is very good but sometimes dangerous. But edible mushrooms also know children in my country.

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