The Mushroom Necklaces
November 25, 2007
My family had a yearly tradition. My parents took us all into wilderness to reconnect with nature and show us how to pick mushrooms.
When the end of the summer came, mornings became cooler, and the trees began to change colour. That was a sign that soon my parents would prepare for the trip.
“Margaret, find your rubber boots and go to bed early because tomorrow we will visit the forest.” My mum’s voice meant that would be at exactly five a.m. I had to be ready to go.
As a child I didn’t like to wake up so early. Half asleep half awake, I got myself ready. I ate a sandwich, drank hot tea, and wore warm clothes. Mostly, we went to the forest by bus along with some other collectors. So, when I heard that the bus was honking, I had to quickly jump into my boots, grab my wicker basket and leave.
It took a few hours to reach the destination. The morning was foggy. Not many cars were on the road. Except for the bus’s engine, silence reigned. Once there, “mushroom veterans” gave us last minute advice. Mostly they were addressed to the kids to not get lost. If someone calls your name, answer and be back in time to catch the bus.
My mom also warned me about which mushrooms I shouldn’t pick and which ones are good to eat.
The forest is always beautiful with its smell of the fresh spruces, pines, and forest bedding. Dew on the leaves looks like pearls spread all over. Some trees look like humans figures that dance with each other. And the silence almost rings in your ears.
To find a mushroom you have to have an eagle’s sight and an athlete’s flexibility. The brown cup of a King Bolete or Slippery Jack were hidden so well that you had to be patient to spot them among the dry leaves. Living creatures in the forest have something mysterious and intriguing that inspires people to discover their secrets.
When we came home with our baskets of delicious mushrooms, it was time to select the best ones to dry and to pickle the rest. While my mom was cleaning, checking, and slicing the mushrooms into slender strips, I was threading them on a string to make necklaces. They dried for a couple of days above the kitchen stove, so that at Christmas they were ready for the traditional mushroom soup.
Picking the mushrooms was not easy for me as a child, but eating a delicious soup was worth the effort.