This time of year, this blog receives more than its usual number of visitors, and many of those visitors land on my posts about foraging for mushrooms. Yesterday there were 37 visits specifically related to foraging, and 28 of those to a post about preparing lobster mushrooms.
Curiously enough, this is also the time of year when I wind down my foraging activities. From now through October, the woods will be crowded with mushroom-hounds. In one forest I know, a forest in which I happily collect edible mushrooms all summer, never seeing another forager, very few mushrooms are to be found in late September and through October, simply because groups of foragers descend on the woods and pick up anything that might be edible. I’ve seen spots that might support one lonesome forager with 4 or 5 cars jammed in the parking areas in October.
One of the things I’ve learned about myself over the years is that for me, foraging is not just about bringing home mushrooms any more than fly fishing is just about catching trout. I like to be out in the woods with my dogs. I enjoy the solitude. I enjoy quietly observing nature. I don’t like competing with other foragers in the woods.
The other thing that happens in the fall is that phenomenon known as hunting season. I forage in public forests where hunting is allowed and I have two big Newfoundland dogs, one of whom resembles a small bear. As much as I’m sure most of our hunters are careful and responsible, I don’t want somebody with a gun startled by a 150 pound Newf ambling through the forest.
And so, I mostly leave the fall forests for others, and I’ll pick up my mushroom basket again in spring, when the morels appear. I’m looking forward to that, since I was in a cast and was unable to visit any morel spots this year. It seems this has been an short summer, since I spent the first part of it on my butt. I confess I’m not looking forward to the long winter ahead.