tramping the woodsroad

We live on a lovely dirt road which should be called ‘slice of heaven’. It has five other neighbors on it, all of which we are on good terms with but I particularly love my pal Nell, who is away for graduate school in art at the moment. Nell’s driveway is right across from ours, is quite long and leads to a woodsroad that is lots of fun to take walks on. So today Jack, Yva and I took our puppy Hobie out for a long walk to search for mushrooms. We found, and left, tons of Amanitas, Boletes, beautiful mosses, corrals, Turkey tail look-alikes, a Chaga (since we didn’t have an axe) and so many other wonderful plants.

I brought the tree book (an excellent book called Forest Trees of Maine put out by the Maine Forest Service) and looked up all the trees trying to figure out where the different mushrooms might be since so many of them live in a kind of symbiosis with trees. I have a general idea as to what different trees are but would like to get a lot better at telling the differences between the different kinds of spruces, oaks, pines, etc.  I am afraid I have been a little size-ist in my tree attentions before now because, aside from spot pruning, I have mainly been responsible for composting and taking care of the shorter garden varieties and we have a professional arborist who takes care of the larger trees. In any case, when I found out that mushrooms grow under certain trees, I was doubly excited because I realized that this was a chance to broaden my understanding. This is how I learned my plants. Unlike some people who take useful classes like botany (I have two undergraduate degrees, one in Anthropology and one in Illustration), I just developed a passion for a plant, one at a time – well, sometimes two or three or four at a time.

But back to our walk. We actually brought home two kinds of mushrooms, honey mushrooms and aborted entolomas which we have been admiring and I have been considering sending pics of them to Greg Marley for a positive ID… I don’t know, maybe I’ll just cook them up and put them in the freezer to give myself some time since I have a number of things to do tonight. Or maybe, since I read that honey mushrooms are really for the more advanced picker, I’ll just throw them out. As they say, “when in doubt, throw it out” – it doesn’t appeal to the thriftiness of my soul, but I’d choose un-thrifty over dying any day.

But eat them, don’t eat them, truly it doesn’t matter, I won’t feel as if the day was wasted – I loved spending the afternoon walking out the woodsroad with Jack, Yva & Hobie.  Jack and I had considered building our house on a piece of land out on the woodsroad but decided against it since the road is terrible in the winter with all the skidder traffic and the internet coverage is spotty at best but, oh, it is so beautiful. What does A Pattern Language say? Never build your house in the most beautiful spot? I think I have to agree.

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