I come from a hereditary tradition — of mushroom hunters.
I remember my father the forest ranger taking me out when I was ten or eleven to look for them. It was usually raining, and I did not understand what he was seeing, but the activity was somehow important. And we ate them.
Then nothing until I was in my mid-twenties, when M. and I went hiking on the west side of Pike’s Peak (Horsethief Park, if you know the area) one late-summer day.
There we met a number of middle-aged and older German ladies wandering the forest with shopping bags.
They re-initiated me — and initiated her.
It’s like another German “grandmother story.”
(Demographic note: Colorado Springs is a major military garrison town, and troops at Fort Carson frequently go back and forth to Germany, which they have been doing since 1945. Sometimes they get married.)
For a time we got by with what the German ladies taught us. Then we wanted to learn more. But we had moved to a much smaller town, and there were no mycological groups there.
Dad, a member, bought us a membership too. But that was a drought year, and all forays were canceled. Then he died, and my stepmother died, which pretty much ended our regular trips to Colorado Springs.
We started buying books. Yep, we’re book-taught mushroomers. Every time we go out (we don’t say “foray”), we try to learn a new one—and meanwhile we stick to the half-dozen that we know are good.
Like the Sarcodon imbricatus (hawk’s wing) in the jar. I figured those out from a book.
Two days ago we hit one of our favorite spots, and right off spotted where someone had sliced some Boletus edulis at the base. Everyone goes for king boletes! But they had left pounds and pounds of hawk’s wing mushrooms while they focused on boletes. (We still found some boletes ourselves anyway.)
It’s OK being solitary mushroom-hunters with a few good books and an inquiring (but careful) attitude.
I just wish that Dad was here to share them.