“Ready to go?” I piled my mushroom picking gear into my neighbour’s vehicle.
“Ready when you are,” she said. “What a gorgeous day, after so much rain.”
“I brought my cell phone.”
“Me too,” she said. “And I’ll bring the GPS, but I seem to remember we can’t get a signal out there.”
“That’s right. But you never know. Maybe it’s changed.” We agreed it was a good idea to have a cell phone along anyway. If necessary we could walk to a place where the reception was better.
But we would be fine. Two women alone in the woods was no big deal these days. We had bear spray and felt independent and confident that we’d be safe.
The day was perfect. We found enough chanterelles to keep us busy. Muscles that hadn’t been used for some time protested at first, but while picking mushrooms I can ignore their complaints. Plenty of time to moan and groan later.
My neighbour tried her GPS. No luck. Weak signal. Same with the cell phone. That was all right. We had no one we needed to call.
During a break for lunch, we tried to coax a steller’s jay to eat some bread crumbs, but though he was tempted, he remained on his guard.
“Do you think our old bones can manage another lap of the woods?” we asked each other.
“Let’s give it another hour,” I suggested. “If we don’t find much more, we’ll still have had a good day.”
Getting re-organized to go back into the woods took us a bit longer this time; putting our lunch bags away; hauling out the fanny packs and the bear spray; putting away the GPS that did us no good out there; getting fresh bags for picking; locking the vehicle, and getting our packs zipped up.
“All set? Okay. Let’s see what we can find.”
It was slimmer pickings this time, but we were happy with what we found. An hour later, back at the truck, I stood and waited for my neighbour to open it. She slapped her jacket pockets, feeling for her keys. Her face clouded over. She rummaged through her fanny pack, which, oddly, had the zipper open already.
“Oh God!” she said quietly. Slap, slap, slap. She patted down every pocket and then clawed frantically through her fanny pack again. There was a long silence as we stared at each other. “I’ve lost the keys,” she said.
We looked up at the sidehill we had just come down. As if reading my mind she said, “We’d never find them.”
“Do you have a spare key hidden somewhere?” I was thinking, maybe attached to something under the hood, or elsewhere on the vehicle.
I started to relax.
My shoulders sagged.
“Well,” I said, “we could phone my husband to call your husband to bring the key, and they could drive up here and get us going again. It would only take them about an hour.” I had visions of us walking a long way to get a signal for the phone.
“IF I can remember where the spare key is at home.” She slapped some more pockets and dug around in the pack again. “OH! Here it is! Oh thank God.”
Two big sighs of relief escaped us.
“I learned two things today,” my neighbour said. “I can see I have to find a place for a spare key.”
“And the other thing?”
“I have to fix the zipper on my fanny pack.”