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.
Conditions 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.
Tripping 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.