...And good riddance to 2012! We say that with tongue only partly in cheek; 2012 was among the worst, if not THE worst, year we've had in our thirty-plus years of mushrooming. There. We've said it.
Sure, we found some mushrooms, and sure, it was always interesting and absorbing to tromp around in the woods looking for them. And we're willing to admit that the combination of some extended, non-fungal (but very fun!) travel, the lack of success we experienced on the forays we did go on, and - just perhaps - our own advancing years contributed to fewer hours spent in the pursuit of our quarry.
We rented a classic Morgan to tour Scotland!
"Bad" years are never entirely bad, either. A little humility is never a bad thing for people who have fallen into the trap of thinking they're pretty darned good at any activity, mushrooming or otherwise. It also displeases the mushroom gods if they think they're being taken for granted. And perhaps the lack of the mushrooms we'd come to expect led us to pay more attention - not to gather, but to observe and enjoy - species we normally just pass by.
And there were causes for minor celebrations along the way. One was the discovery of a small but worthwhile patch of candy caps, a lovely addition to our stores whenever we can get them. They were the direct result of a "lead" by Eve and Stephen Thompson, and the celebration of a nice find is made even better when it's directly attributable to really good friends. I should add that this was a "lead" in the sense that they practically took us by the hand, led us directly to the candy caps, pointed at them, and said "There they are!," then stood by while we cut and bagged them. That, dear reader, is a lead!
The Mushroom Queen with
Then there was the day Mary came home from a solo foray (I was in the midst of a project, and couldn't join her) bearing a beautifully crisp Cauliflower mushroom, which is always a cause of celebration. She earned the title of "Mushroom Queen" that day; she often does.
Friends Eve and Steve cornered a beautiful grouping of absolutely perfect Amanita muscaria just as they were popping out of the ground, and we watched them grow into astonishingly beautiful maturity, and then into their inevitable decay. Steve is a very fine photographer, and chronicled their lives. By the time those Amanitas were gone, they were like old friends, and we found ourselves mourning them, in a way.
There were also the days that we headed out together, filled with the heady anticipation that this would surely be our day: conditions were right, the weather had changed for the better and our season was about to take a dramatic turn for the better. They never turned out that way this year, but sharing days like that with somebody you care about certainly lessens the disappointment when things don't work out exactly as planned.
We weren't really looking, but happened
upon this specimen in Scotland.
There were a few other highlights, too: a fungal photography class in June put on by Steve Trudell, long-time professor of mushroomy stuff and esteemed co-author of Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest, a must-have for anyone seriously interested in the subject. We've known Steve for years, have taken classes from him before, and always - always - learn a lot from him.
And in October, we had the pleasure of seeing the latest performance (they're way too good to be called "shows") by Taylor Lockwood, the best (and most widely-travelled) mushroom photographer on the planet. Taylor is a born entertainer as well as a good friend. He never fails to surprise and delight, both in person as well as through his videos, calendars and books.
It's funny, in a way. As I review what I've written above, I find myself thinking, "Shame on you; here you are, whining and complaining about what a lousy year it was. It was actually a great year - just different!"
Well, right you are.
And with that thought, we wish you a bounteous and rewarding 2013, in every sense of the word!
A cottontail thinks I can't see her.