Every autumn we go hunting. Mushroom hunting.
Luckily, the places we forage for chanterelle mushrooms are just a quick drive from our home. So we bundle up mid-morning while the last of the autumn fog still clings to the hillsides and we head up the road. I usually dress in so many layers I resemble some sort of bulging larvae ready to hatch, but at least I’m not one bit cold. It’s the little triumphs, man.
This last time we went foraging I found a whopping TWO chanterelle mushrooms. Derek, well, he typically finds more because he is the resident mushroom whisperer – I’m happy to just walk around and take pictures. I mean, I LOVE finding the motherload of chanterelles, but keeping some semblance of reality in my life, I have to admit that it’s more likely that I won’t be the one to find the mushroom motherload. I know, tiniest violin playing right now. Clarification: I find PLENTY of mushrooms, just not the golden kind that are simply delicious sautéed and eaten. If it’s slime mold you’re looking for, well heck, let me hook you up!
I’m in love with the forest around our home. It’s thick with these happy maples that whistle and twirl in the wind with just the right amount of rustle – there’s bits of magic in the woods outside our door. The forest where we hunt for mushrooms is another place entirely. It’s quiet, but not the quiet of a Jane Austen vignette, leisurely and cheerful, it’s the quiet that you can’t decide if it’s peaceful or ominous. There are SO many little things living in those woods, and often I feel like an intruder in their home – and really, I am. Derek and I always approach foraging with a certain brand of reverence and respect – like we’re in a sort of holy place. We only take what we will use, and we leave the mushrooms ends covered and as undisturbed as possible. And we always say ‘thank you’ for what the forest provides. But still, there is that alien feeling floating in the breeze; it’s not creepy but it’s not welcoming either. It just is. A vast neutral palate of Pacific Northwest that engulfs our little maple homespace that we sometimes venture into.
I suppose living near the forest is like living near the ocean: they’re both an expanse of nature that is neither for you nor against you – lovely and daunting – nourishing and isolating – electric and calm.
[Before I share my images I do want to state that Derek and I have been harvesting chanterelle mushrooms in the Willamette Valley for years now – we know what we’re looking for. Do not eat mushrooms that you have not properly identified. And if you have doubts do a spore print.]
Remember kids, only one of the mushrooms pictured in this post is edible. Identify, spore print, double and triple check. Seriously, ain’t nobody got time for digestive distress, renal failure, or death. Especially death.