My GRANDMOTHER LORNA JEAN DUFTY was the person who got me interested in foraging for edible mushrooms. When I was a small girl, I would tag along behind her as she headed out into the woods or fields around her farm in Oxford county to collect the most delicious wild things, ever.
We would fry them up in a cast iron pan in the kitchen as soon as we got home. I have been looking for mushrooms ever since, with increasing success every year. And, of course, being a mushroomer entails bringing others along, showing how to gently walk, and find, and celebrate. My grandson, Lu, is in the picture, reaching his small arm around behind a clump of lilacs along a chain link fence natty with last year's maple leaf humous to pick a golden morel.
Mushroomers have a reputation for being stingy with information aboutwherethey find these gems. Since we are mushroomers, people askus for information: Where should I look for morels? chanterelles? black trumpet? Whenisit morel season? Is it time for me to set out from downtown Toronto to that field outside of Owen Sound where I found some growing once when I was a newt?
We 'shroom people typically won't tell just anyone the exact location
because unlike other parts of nature, mushrooms don't typically happen by the zillions.
The patches we harvest fromare small to begin with, and when we bring someone along to that place, with reverence, we always show how to leave some so that they will always be there. If every Tom Dick and Harry set their GPS to the places we know to look, it's highly likely, given what greedy assholes we humans are, that all the mushrooms would go missing, and not return the next year.But do not despair. We are willing to share an even more important secret that will increase the likelihood of your finding patches of your own...It's this: if you ever do chance upon what you think might be a morel, or a chanterelle, or a black trumpet... pay close attention to it (we mean: every single possible detail about it your eyes, ears and nose can gather up) AND pay equal attention to what is around it. Don't worry about remembering exactly where it is. In a sense, mushrooms are everywhere. Mushrooms are the most brilliant teachers of ecology, but sometimes we're so dialed into the goal --getting that mushroom into the pan --or, naming that species and ticking it off in a sciency-well-ordered nerd journal, that we fail to open up our apertures and receive the radical sustainable and holistic teaching that it is offering us.