Photos: Trina and Greg
Since the bliss of riding mountain bikes together is temporarily lost to us, we had to go seeking other fun. We loaded up our two dogs and our three functioning arms and headed up our big local mountain. Our quarry: food for the pot and savory winter flavors. Wild mushrooms!
Trina and I stalked amid pine and aspen trees along the edges of small mountain meadows and near the soggy fringes of a lake. Zeek and Sprocket frenzied all around, trying to help and/or get in the way. The monsoon moisture of recent days had tempted lots of different mushrooms to poke their heads up through the dirt and pine needle duff.
We limited our harvest to the beautiful bolete mushrooms, whose rusty domed caps and bulbous white stems seem to sprout up out of fairy tales. But we visually enjoyed the odd and lovely forms of other forest fungi, some shyly brown, others glowing with color. And it was fun to have a bit of purpose for wandering through the forest like we often wander anyway.
The feel of the forest is changing with the season. Trina says she can smell autumn in the air, even in town. I cannot, or am in denial of it. But in the high country, there is a definite sense of, perhaps, preparedness. The rush of Spring is long past. The fullness of summer is fading. The greenery that paints the wider spaces between the stolid pines has become weighted with a tiredness. There is a sense of buttoning up soft-worn flannel as the tasks of the season are nearly completed, as tools are gathered, ready to be put away in a dark wooden shed.
We picked many pounds of wild mushrooms. Trina squealed with delight at each new discovery. At the sight of each new variation of cap and curve, stem and swell. At the strange and fabulous phenomenon of food pushing itself up through the forest floor and into the dappled light. We gathered a portion of the richness we found there and took it home with us, hoping, perhaps, to close our eyes and linger again in the summer forest of our imaginations as we slurp winter soup.