October 26, 2008

Fall's Gold

Forest paths, all damp and mossy,
maple leaves smother hidden trails,
and that's where you're going to find me,
gathering wild mushroom with my girl...

With summer gone, as soon as the days begin to feel cooler and damper, R and I morph into hunters. But while the guys I work with prowl the woods for deer and moose, our hunting adventures are much more pacific. Our forays into BC's wilderness focus on something that is maybe a bit more prolific than wild game and yet is, often, just as hard to find. Wild mushrooms.

I can smell them in the air as soon as the temperatures drop and the damp sets in and I become driven to head for the forest. I've been hunting wild mushrooms since I was a kid in the Czech Republic, where it's something close to a national obsession, and I've continued doing so through the years until now. Luckily, although looking for wild edibles was something R never did until he met me, he embraced it readily. And why not? There's something authentic and grounding in moving through a silent forest, eyes to ground, scanning for hidden treasure.

These days, we pretty much only pick Chanterelles. Bugs don't seem to like them much, they're never worm-eaten like other wild mushrooms can sometimes be, and I like their texture: they're almost "meaty" and have a great flavour. They also dry well so I can keep them through winter for adding to soups and such. R did find some Pine mushrooms years ago in Squamish and we'd be thrilled to find some more here, but they don't seem to show up in this area. Even Chanterelles are elusive enough. We can sometimes spend hours and find nothing and then, other times, we hit the pot of gold.

The last few years we've been lucky. R found a hidden spot we return to each year, where we always manage to gather enough for a couple of suppers and for drying. Today we even had a special treat: a red-headed woodpecker, hard at work above our heads, bits of wood flinging around us as we walked.

* * *

We were back in time for me to print the next two colours for the current prints. Eve and the Serpent is still looking sort of weird,

but the Dragon Maple is nearing completion. One last colour left to do on that one.

That's just as well, seeing as it's almost time to start thinking Christmas cards again SIGH. Not my favourite thing for sure not.

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