Prince Charming

 At last, we had the perfect weather for picking mushrooms in this great watershed. All the hillsides around the lake should be loaded in treasure. Chanterelles like it damp, dim, and not too cold, and they like to grow where there are fir trees.

009Conditions were right. It should have been a great day, but until very recently, our weather has been extremely hot and dry, and it takes time for a mushroom to grow even after the first rains.

My friends and I found two or three button-size chanterelles each, after hours of scouring the woods. We sat by the lake to have our lunch and come up with as many reasons as possible to justify returning home without bags and bags of mushrooms.


It’s great exercise.

So much fresh air.

It’s real life in the real world.

Beats working out in the gym.

Still, our feet were tired, and we were disillusioned and deflated at the thought of coming home empty-handed. Also we were dismayed to see how many of our old picking areas were now logging slash.

This is what we were after….



But this is all we saw….


Dry moss with not a mushroom in sight. Acres of dry moss.

We found huge pine cones…


but no mushrooms…

We found the beginnings of a burl growing on a tree trunk...

but no mushrooms….

We decided to try one more area, close to the lake where there might be more moisture. To make it an easier walk, we set out across the clear cut area where the fireweed now grew tall. What we didn’t think about was that the logging company had left a mess of branches behind after taking the trees off the areas where we used to pick mushrooms. Apparently the logging companies are supposed to leave the limbs in place to decay naturally….sigh….

Picking our way through, we had to walk through places much worse than this one. Here are my friends trying not to trip in the slash. Up ahead and to the right you can see the fireweed that hides more of this kind of ankle-twisting mess.

031Tripping over the fallen branches, one of our team fell onto the bag that held her bear spray. She must have twisted the canister’s nozzle sideways and knocked off the safety guard. I was farther downhill from her when I heard, “Ouch!” and a hissing sound that didn’t want to stop. “Oh no-o-o-o-o!” she called, and I heard her crashing through the dried branches that lay crisscrossed on the ground.

When the canister was empty, the hissing faded, but my friends coughed so hard  that it sounded like pieces of lung must soon be spat out.

Just as I was congratulating myself on being farther away and not affected by this mishap at all, the invisible pepper cloud drifted downhill towards me. How did I know it was there? My lungs were on fire, I stumbled farther away from the pepper spray and coughed my way into the woods.

What a day! Our lungs were on fire, our lips and eyes burned, our throats ached from coughing. “Bear spray would definitely work if we needed it,” I barked out.

When we had recovered slightly, we moved into the woods for easier walking.

“Where is Prince Charming when you need him?” I thought.

Just then, the friend who had emptied her bear spray canister called, “Hey come look at this!”

And there he was! Our Prince Charming – a bit late to save us, but there, nevertheless.


*** Don’t forget to check out my other blog, Anneli’s Place, if you are interested in anything related to reading and writing.

40 thoughts on “Prince Charming

          1. zannyro

            Lol…I was referring to how you all must look now that you’ve worked out. Sometimes my thought forget to connect properly to my fingers. Maybe I should give up this writer stuff 🙂

            1. wordsfromanneli Post author

              Oh, I see. Well, of course, we MUST look amazing, now that we’ve washed off the orange stain from the bear spray. I went back later and handled the bag the canister went off in, thinking I’d get a picture, but the pepper, after an hour, was still too strong and then I realized I had orange hands so I took that burning stuff with me all the way home. But you’re right. The workout didn’t hurt us at all and I’m sure we lost a few ounces (besides what we lost from the canister).

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      My prince in waiting! I don’t know if it’s a toad or a frog. Don’t really know the difference. All I know is it’s a prince waiting to be kissed so he can be mine. (Could’t bring myself to do it.)

  1. Dawn

    Oh Anneli..your lungs must have been starving for fresh oxygen after that episode.
    Even though you missed your mushroom target you had a terrific day in the beautiful B.C. outdoors with your friends.

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      For sure. The worst thing is that we had to break down and buy mushrooms for today’s curried chicken dish that I had planned to put chanterelles in. The two tiny ones I found went into a sauce for a bit of flavour yesterday. Needed a magnifying glass to see the pieces.

  2. susielindau

    Pepper spray is the worst! It gets into your throat and lasts a long time. I remember being at a fundraiser when someone’s must have gone off accidentally in their purse!

  3. Ursula Kurz

    I think your prince charming was a frog. Looks like you had a very good day together. I loved your story and the very beautiful pictures! Next time you will get some mushrooms, just don´t give up so fast!

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Yes, Prince Charming was a frog, but if only I could have made myself kiss him, he could have turned back into a prince. IF it was the right frog! I just didn’t want to take a chance and kiss the wrong frog.

  4. bulldog

    Bear spray ?? Never heard of this, is it the same as pepper spray that the police use ?? (tear gas)…. collecting mushrooms sounds like a dangerous past time….

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Yes, pepper spray, but it’s only allowed for use as bear spray for when you’re in the woods. You can’t go walking around town with it. It has to be labeled “Bear Guard” or some brand like that. Tree planters always have it handy in case of meeting a bear that’s in a bad mood. Most bears run away, but you never know….I’ve never run into any problems when I’ve been mushroom picking, but just in case, I like to have it with me.

  5. Lori D

    Oh boy, that was an experience. I don’t have bear spray, but I carry pepper spray on my keychain. I had it in my pocket once and somehow accidentally pressed the nozzle, where it leaked out onto my thigh. Then, I touched the burning sensation on my thigh and those same fingers to my face. Duh! I didn’t realize until after I’d done both that the pepper spray had leaked.

    Did you ever find any mushrooms at all?

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      It’s good to have when you need it, but not so good when it goes off accidentally. No we didn’t find more than a couple of tiny buttons that day. We need a good week of rain before they’ll pop up and usually it’s earlier than this. Years ago I remember that there were mushrooms up in the last week of August already. So they’ll be late this year. It’s been very dry!


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