Miss Manners is prepared to sweep through your mushroom hunting territory and get rid of all those lurking traces of rudeness that you are pretending don't exist. You know that you are not going to enjoy a pleasant and peaceful foray unless you eliminate and erase all potential incidents of rudeness!
- Waste not, want not. Gather only mushrooms that you will use. Process them promptly – either by serving them fresh, or by preserving them. Allowing mushrooms to rot after gathering them is the worst kind of wastefulness, declares Miss Manners, and may incur both her wrath and the wrath of the mushroom gods!
- Even though you may try to “waste not,” there are times when you may discover at home that some of the mushrooms you gathered were not in as good a condition as you thought when you picked them. Miss Manners dictates that these should be disposed of in a suitable place in the woods, along with the trimmings from other mushrooms. They may contribute to future crops.
- No! No! No! Never destroy unwanted mushrooms unnecessarily (e.g., kick them over, step on them, etc.). They all have their place in the environment, if not our basket, philosophizes Miss Manners.
- If you are not certain a mushroom is one you want for the table, the only reason to pick it is for subsequent identification at home with your books. Keep such mushrooms segregated in separate paper bags in your basket; don’t mix them up with others. Be cautious, warns Miss Manners!
- If you see on picking a mushroom that it isn’t one you want to take home, replace it as you found it. The spores will still drop and hopefully propagate, as nature intended. Miss Manners doesn't approve of spoiling the natural order of the universe.
- Pick up litter whenever you possibly can. Tut, tut, people can be so rude, bemoans Miss Manners. Besides, if you don’t do it, who will? Oh, my, says Miss Manners, if you don’t, it will be there to “greet” you the next time you're there, and since litter seems to attract litter, it will probably have multiplied.
- When harvesting mushrooms, replace all divots. This protects the remaining mycelia, and also conceals from others who follow that you found a mushroom there!
- In areas where mushrooms are dense, try to minimize the amount of walking around. Excess foot traffic compresses the loose surface duff, making it more difficult for mushrooms to sprout and possibly affecting the mycelia.
- Always take, at a minimum, a compass with you when going into the woods, and use it. It is not difficult to get turned around, even in areas you’ve been in before. Feeling lost is no fun, and having to be rescued is even less fun. Miss Manners would be chagrined to find herself on the front page of the newspaper for having been rescued!
- Accept the fact that mushrooming can be competitive. While other people have as much right to gather mushrooms on public lands as you do, you are under no obligation to show them your “patches” and don’t expect them to show you theirs.
- Never knowingly lead others to a mushroom patch. Tread lightly, and try to eliminate any sign of your ever having been there.
- Never reveal a precise mushroom patch to others outside your immediate group. To do so deprives them of the sense of accomplishment they feel when they discover a good patch on their own, and of developing the base of knowledge that comes from that effort. It also makes it less likely that these patches will continue to be productive for you.
- At the same time, accept that other people will inevitably “find” some of your patches, despite your best efforts. Be philosophical about it. You can try to get to these favorite patches before your competitors do, but you must also regularly explore new areas and discover productive new patches to supplement or replace those that have been discovered by others.
- Keep a very detailed log. It will contribute greatly to your knowledge over the years, and guide you to where your chances might be best. Miss Manners believes that organization can contribute to one's success in many fields, not just in mushrooming.
Is it a leaf or a chanterelle?