Completely unprepared, we met the members of our Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club yesterday morning at Yellow Creek for a “mushroom walk.” I had sneakers on–wrong choice in muddy pathways! Rich had shorts and short sleeves–wrong choice when there are bugs and tics everywhere, let alone poison ivy! We brought plastic bags for our harvest–definitely wrong choice when you harvest mushrooms apparently. Oh well… they gave us mesh bags and we set out on the trail.
The air was humid and the pathway was lovely. Before long, the group of 30 scattered around left and right, picking mushrooms delicately and placing them in their bag or basket. I wondered how they managed to spot all those mushrooms so quickly… I guess it takes a trained eye, which I so did not have. I enjoyed the woodsy smell and the wet leaves under my feet, the lovely trail and the sun shining through the trees. And then, I saw my first mushroom… the tinies thing you have ever seen. I picked it, root and all and deposited it in my bag with a smile on my face. There, at least I got one!
As I went along the trail, I lost my fellow-mushroomers. I was walking too quickly I guess, for the lack of picking. But I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Here and there I found one, or two, or ten, and I walked away from the main pathway to discover beautiful orange mushrooms. They were every where! I gently picked left and right and left and right and my bag got so heavy. I think that I got lost at one point, but I just kept walking, figuring that I would eventually come back to the beach area, not too far from our meeting point. Indeed I did–with a bag overflowing with orange mushrooms.
The club members were busy laying their priced harvest on the picnic tables and identifying them one at a time. Hedgehogs, cauliflowers, coral, belise this and that… so many names, so many different kinds of mushrooms. Different looks, smells, colors. Most of them were poisonous apparently. My orange ones turned out to be “chanterelles,” a prized culinary posession. Little did I know. I must have picked at least 5 pounds of the stuff–worth lots of money apparently!
We went home and had some chanterelles sauteed in butter with onions. Absolutely delicious; no wonder there are sought after!
We might join the mushroom club one of these days…

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