July of this year, much like July of last year, has been a poor month for mushroom hounds in these parts. Why? It’s been way too dry. Buoyed by a little bit of rain that fell on the Enchanted Mushroom Forest a few days ago, I invited the dogs to join me for a walk in the woods. They informed me that it’s been too dry for mushrooms but they’d love to wander around the forest anyway. So off we went, stopping at a reliable spot for chanterelles. The forest was very dry, with no sign that that it had rained at all. There is one little area, beside a path, but not the usual path, that I think of as my barometer. If there are chanterelles around, I’ll find several in this one little area. Today I found 7 or 8 dried up, bug-eaten posts that once belonged to chanterelles. We had a closer look in a few other good spots at this stop only to find the same thing elsewhere, a few old posts, along with a couple remnants of old lobster mushrooms, also way past their expiry date. Ellie Mae gave me a look that could only mean, I told you so, stupid human.
Some time back, my brother the trout showed me a peculiar property down the road from the Enchanted Mushroom Forest, at the edge of a hemlock bog, in a place where the ground undulates deeply as if some restless God had scooped out bits of the landscape with a celestial ice cream scoop, just for kicks. We know this spot lovingly as The Malerial Bog. It stays wet way longer than anyplace else around and at times it can host many, many edible mushrooms. It also hosts a mind-boggling number of mosquitoes. I figured if I were to find mushrooms anywhere, it would be here. It was so dry there, the puddles on the old road, which rarely ever fully dry out, were fully dried out. It was so dry there were no mosquitoes around. There were lobster mushrooms there, but they were old and bug-eaten and crumbly. I lifted up one that from above looked good. This mushroom was hosting a family of large black beetles of some sort, who were not at all pleased that I removed their canopy. I carefully put it back.
Well, we enjoyed a nice morning walk in the woods at least. I think we need more than a thunderstorm to get the mushrooms fruiting. I think we need a nice sustained two-day rain.