I love Chanterelle mushrooms, the golden little fungi that appear this time of year on forest floors and grocery shelves around the Pacific Northwest. In the stores they cost about $12.99 per pound. In the forests they’re free, but you better know what you’re looking for. Being a mushroom foraging rookie, I knew I had to appeal to the sympathies of my favorite experienced mushroom hunter, Tamara.
Asking someone where they forage for mushrooms is like asking someone where their favorite fishing hole is or the location of their buried treasure. I’ve been whining to Tamara for several years about my desire to join her on a Chanterelle foraging expedition. This year she took pity on me and agreed to let me tag along, that is provided I swore to secrecy, made a blood pact, donned a blindfold and offered up Boz and Gracie as collateral. (She drives a hard bargain, but Chanterelles are worth it.)
After driving a bit, we pulled over to the shoulder of the road. Blindfold now a snappy kerchief, I was ready for a lengthy hike into the arboreal forests of Vashon Island, ready to machete my way through brambles and thickets, prepared to ford streams and fight back bears, determined deer and disagreeable hikers. As I strode northward into the woods, she called out, “Where are you going?” I replied, “To find our mushroom goldmine.” She just shook her head and said, “We’re here. This is where I find Chanterelles.”
There we stood on the shoulder of one of the busiest roads on the island with mushroom bags and knives in hand, a country road about as secret of a location as the island’s ferry dock or movie theatre.
“Tamara, won’t passersby figure out we’re picking mushrooms?
“No Tom, not if you put on this orange vest and pick up a garbage bag.”
Let’s see what should my story be, work release or adopt a highway?
What I was blogging about: