Wednesday, April 26, 2017

solitary pursuit

It is quite the solitary pursuit.  As I age it seems more and more that is true of everything.  Why talk?  

So I walk and look, thinking "morel".  Thinking "they are invisible".  And I see wet because it has been raining except for yesterday and today.  I see where the creek has been up over the growing things and is still bold, and the wet spot there where it doesn't drain where it used to.  I see the green that is now everywhere, so that I even have trouble finding the may apples because now every second year tree is green at the same height as may apples and "all of that is trees" and "oh there are the may apples" after I go look where I know they were a couple weeks ago, where I have a reference.  But that's at the end of the walk and no, I don't find any dry land fish there.

Because they smell just like fish you know.  There was one really fresh shelf mushroom that I must look up so see if it is identifiable, edible.  "There are old mushroom hunters and bold mushroom hunters but there are no old bold mushroom hunters."  Only the really identifiable ones, thanks. And even then, go through the safety checks.  Puffballs are easily identifiable but if you assume it is a puffball and don't cut through the center, well, misidentification of puffballs is the most common cause of death for mushroom hunters.

I walk and stare and sit down now and then to try to make sure I'm not missing something. I look up to check the species of trees.  I look at the base, the moss, the sunshine, the rocks.  There's solomon's seal and enough stinging nettles to gather for supper and fragrant bedstraw and wild ginger and teaberry and cohosh.  There's violets blooming, and white violets.  There's whatever that is that I misidentified for years as bloodroot, and the bloodroot, evidently offended, won't show itself to me now.

I think of snakes, out here by myself.  The family knows I'm in the woods, they will discern my general direction, but I'm off the paths, not far but that often doesn't matter.  I have on boots, I'm careful with my hands.

Crossing the creek I hesitate.  We've just had flash floods.  It is high but not that high, strong but I've done it before.  Is there a good place?  The old place isn't good.  I go back along the creek a ways, still mushroom hunting but also creek contemplating, danger contemplating, mushroom contemplating.  Oh, there is Tennessee iris blooming, so much of that out this trail, and there is a mushroom and another under the leaf litter and while not edible they beckon me to go on, to cross the creek.

My boots are old and worn and no longer entirely waterproof, but I can still cross and only a heel gets damp.  Rocks are slick.  Current is strong.  Really strong.  People don't realize. It is so doable but only with respect for how strong that is.  And it could still bite your butt.  Which is really what life is like but people don't realize that either I don't guess.

I cross the creek and look to my right and gasp.  There is a golden morel.  Right.  There.  Bold.  Not hard to see.  I search and search there for more and find three total -- that one, a small one, and one emerging.  I take two.  I pay attention.  Poplar.  Slightly north side of bank.  I search that area a lot.  I go on up the path until I decide there are too many pines here, and not enough water, and productive out this way is further than I want to go today.  The flat behind our pasture instead of out this way, maybe I'll get someone else to go look there today.  Maybe I'll come back for those nettles.  Huge patches of irises.  I get called along a bank and think I see one . . . but it was just a leaf pretending to be 3D for a moment.

What if you ate like this?  What if you ate by fishing?  What if you ate by someone actually taking these things and cooking them?  What if it were up to you and skill and tenacity, not money?  What if you weren't so damn self-important?  I am so fucking tired of self-important people.  Like presidents.  And rich people.  I'm sick of heaven and hell.  I like mushrooms.  And bees.  And muddy, bumpy, itchy horses.  I like turnips, and kale, and stinging nettles.  And abandoned cats.  And the sounds of my family in this house.  And walking around with my horse girlfriends, the ones I actually like, the ones who aren't fucking self-important.  Gawd, you know, have some humility.  Have a swarm of bees; a garden; an old cat; a clothes line; be a mushroom hunter; a gardener; a horseman; have some passion (lawd I will just about forgive anything for a passion); actually know how to do something.

Find some dry land fish.  Gather some nettles.  Be home in your head.  And your stomach (and thus every cell).


jules said...

I love the cat photo bomb!

jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CG said...

me too. We got two more (and bigger) mushrooms, had them as an adjunct to kale greens from the garden mixed with wildcrafted stinging nettles. Dried the rest of the stinging nettles I gathered that day as they make a wonderful tea.