The Magic of Mushrooms

It's been a very challenging mushroom year. In spite of all the rain, we have found very few edible mushrooms. Because of all the rain, we have spent hours tromping through the woods.

After almost 30 years of mushrooming, my obsessive care in picking only a few well known varieties always disappoints new pickers who dash from specimen to specimen.

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"Oh look at this mushroom! What is it?"

"Oh… Just a brown mushroom."

The same conversation might be had about a white mushroom, a pretty red mushroom, a coral. I know a substantial number of mushrooms, but the ones I care about, depending on the season, are chanterelles, Porcini, Matsutaki, black trumpets, oysters and candy caps. For all others, the answer is usually, "just another mushroom…"

There is one exception. Around this time of year fluorescent glowing dots start appearing around firs and redwoods. Because they are not edible, I always forget their names.

"It's something like a Clytosibe," I might say. "But I'm not sure…"

Finally everybody decides it's simply called a Tania mushroom.

Last week I had a particularly unsatisfying day behind the house. Upon my return however, I realized I had missed something wonderful. A large number of Tania mushrooms—yellow hygrocybes—grew in the small meadow in front of the redwood grove.

I rolled around on the wet earth capturing this amazing gift, and share it with you.

I confess it has taken me a while to do so, because the image doesn't seem particularly realistic. These mushrooms truly are otherworldly. But on Saturday Barbara and Mary Anne and I walked through the woods and darted from dot to dot, unceasingly exclaiming about the bright red and yellow glow. This is what a 2 inch mushroom looks like if you roll around in front of my redwood grove and catch a tip of the sun through the branches. If you are fortunate, as I was, the resident white kite might be shrieking and soaring overhead.